Friday, January 31, 2014

Just in


House finally Passes Farm Bill

Washington--Given up for dead just months ago, a new five-year farm bill easily cleared the House Wednesday morning, raising hopes that Congress can send it to President Barack Obama next week. The strength of the House's 251-166 vote makes this easier and it's now expected that when the bill arrives in the Senate Thursday, cloture will be filed promptly, setting up a pivotal roll call vote Monday. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has said she wants to finish no later than next Wednesday and aides in both parties said this was certainly doable.

The American Farm Bureau Federation commended the House for its passage of the new five-year farm bill. "It's been a tough road for the legislation during the past two years, but we are pleased with the clear bipartisan vote that prevailed," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "We now turn our attention to the Senate  for timely passage of the bill, which will provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year and allow the Agriculture Department to begin planning for implementation of the bill's provisions."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Just in


Tight Propane Supplies Affecting Agricultural Production

Washington--Several factors are behind the current propane shortage, noted Andrew Walmsley, AFBF's environment and energy policy specialist, in Tuesday's Newsline. Last fall's large corn harvest combined with relatively wet weather drew down propane supplies. At the same time, infrastructure realignments in the propane industry had led to some pipelines being taken out of service. Re-routing of propane shipped by train has also been a factor, along with an increase in propane exports.

As unusually cold temperatures have lingered, the propane shortage has been of concern to many livestock farmers, especially those raising chickens and hogs indoors.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just in


Social Media Helps Build Support for Immigration Reform

Washington--To build support for immigration reform leading up to Tuesday's State of the Union address, farmer and rancher members of Farm Bureau were urged to change their profile pictures-on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms-to pro-reform images. Many also shared messages of support for immigration reform using the hashtag #IAmImmigration.

Idaho Farm Bureau is using the image in support of Immigration reform, this is all part of the #IFarmImmigration campaign, for which AFBF has partnered with the Partnership for a New American Economy. February is #IFarmImmigration month and will kick off PNAE's #IAmImmigration campaign continuing through 2014. The month will include numerous events and opportunities to promote our message through Washington, D.C., and local district events plus digital and media outlets. 

PNAE brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and independent mayors and business leaders united in making the economic case for streamlining, modernizing and rationalizing our immigration system. More can be found about PNAE here.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Just in



NEW FARM BILL READIED FOR FINAL DEBATE
Washington--Congress should finally see a new farm bill this week or early next week as House-Senate negotiators worked through the weekend in hopes of filing the legislation by Monday night. Going into Sunday night, a few disputes continued. But Sunday afternoon staff briefings were being held on the proposed agreement and the hope was to call the conferees together for their signatures on Monday.

Indeed, the mood was such that no one believed any longer that more time would help; instead, it was judged better to grab the opportunity for House action this week. And if the farm bill is filed Monday night, the leadership is proposing to call it up as early as Wednesday, a fast turnaround for a measure given up as dead by many just months ago. Bipartisan support remains crucial, but Democrats have won significant compromises on food stamp funding and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is promising a real push to deliver the needed Republican votes.

Farm Bureau supports the compromise farm bill and urges legislators to vote for it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Just in


Farm Bureau Expresses Opposition to RFS Proposal

WASHINGTON – The American Farm Bureau Federation this week stated its opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard requirements, which would scale back the total amount of biofuels that must be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply. AFBF responded to EPA’s Federal Register notice for public comment.
The proposal lowers the mandate to 15.2 billion gallons of renewable fuels.  Of the 15.2 billion gallons, 13.01 billion gallons would come from conventional ethanol and 2.2 billion gallons from advanced biofuels. EPA is proposing that 1.28 billion gallons of the advanced biofuel target be biodiesel.
“This decision strikes a blow to conventional ethanol production and dampens the prospects for the further development of advanced biofuels,” said AFBF Executive Director of Public Policy Dale Moore. “EPA’s proposal will severely move away from achieving the goals that were set by Congress to create a more robust renewable fuels industry as well as a pathway to achieving energy independence from unstable regions of the world.”
Farm Bureau is urging EPA to reconsider its 2014 proposed volume standards and stay the course in order to meet targets indicated in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which calls for 18.15 billion gallons of renewable fuels next year with 14.4 billion gallons to be conventional ethanol and 3.75 billion gallons was to be advanced biofuels.
“Renewable fuels have been a tremendous success story for the nation as a whole as well as to the rural economy,” continued Moore. “The RFS2 has reduced our country’s dependence on foreign crude oil, reduced air pollution, increased farm incomes and has provided good paying jobs within rural America.”
Since the RFS2 was put in place in 2007, the U.S. has seen tremendous growth within the agricultural sector: agricultural exports have increased 57 percent, total livestock output has increased 31 percent and total crop output has increased 44 percent. Additionally, since 2007, the United States has seen crude oil imports decrease from 60 percent of total use down to 40 percent. If the 2014 volume requirements are finalized, this decision would stall growth and progress in each of these areas.
To view AFBF’s comments, click here. The deadline for submitting comments to EPA is Jan. 28 at 11:59 p.m.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Young Farmer and Rancher Annual Meeting

Boise--Idaho Farm Bureau Public Affairs specialist Dennis Tanikuni briefs IFBF's Young Farmers and Ranchers at their Annual Meeting Thursday night.
 
More than 150 YF&R Members statewide are attending the conference and they're learning skills needed to stay competitive in their craft. Tanikuni briefed the group on the Idaho Farm Bureau agenda and issues of interest at the Statehouse.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Young Farmers and Rancher Meeting in Boise

Boise-Idaho Young Farmers and Ranchers will arrive this afternoon from around the state for the Annual Young Farmer and Rancher Conference in Boise.
     "We start registration this afternoon with meetings and even a visit to the Statehouse tomorrow," said advisor Justin Patten. "It's going to be a great meeting."

Just in

 

Crop growers told to prepare for low price era

 Washington—Following some of the best years ever for growing row crops, an agricultural economist advised farmers to prepare for several years of lower prices.

“The last six years have been extraordinary years if you are a row crop producer,” said Matthew Roberts, an associate professor at Ohio State University’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. “It's been the best six years in history. The next six years will not be like that.”  

Strong demand from China and the ethanol industry altered corn and soybean production globally during agriculture’s recent boom period. A decent U.S. crop year in 2013 and curbed growth from ethanol may mean some acreage will revert back to pasture and forage crops. 
  
“The question is how fast, after a grower has made an investment into row crops, we’ll likely have to see losses before that land reverts to another use,” Roberts said.  

Roberts advised large, aggressive and young growers to prepare for a bumpy ride by putting cash in the bank.   

“We are entering a four year to five year period of lower costs and profitability. I think we’ll see some farms (that expanded aggressively) in the corn belt go bankrupt,” he predicted. “Put one year’s worth of land charges (above normal working capital needs) in the bank as soon as possible.”   
“Cash is the only way to ultimately manage risk”, Roberts added.   

“We have a generation of young farmers who have never experienced hard times,” he said.   
Roberts urged farmers to get their spouses fully on board with the farm’s financial outlook.   
“Don’t compound financial problems with divorce,” he said.   

“We are living in the most prosperous time in history,” Roberts noted by pointing out that the world poverty rate has dropped significantly over the past 40 years.   

In 1970, nearly a quarter of the world's population lived on a dollar a day or less. That number fell to 5 percent in 2007. People who live better, eat better. Improving economic conditions in the developing world have caused demand for U.S. agricultural commodities to surge.   

From 2001 to 2011, China's demand for soybeans grew by 30 million acres. Over roughly the same time period, U.S. ethanol usage increased by 20 million acres.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just in from AFBF

Farm Bureau approves strategic action plan for 2014




Washington Following the delegate session of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention, which wrapped up last week in San Antonio, the organization’s board of directors met to set AFBF’s strategic action plan to address public policy issues for 2014.

The board-approved plan includes focusing the organization’s attention on the following key issues: agricultural labor reform, support for renewable fuels, support for biotechnology, protecting farmers’ interests in regard to new technology systems and data compilation, opposition to expanded federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, and protecting farmer and rancher interest regarding fiscal policy and tax reform issues.

“This plan represents those issue areas where we believe the American Farm Bureau Federation and its grassroots members will have real opportunities to achieve success this year, as well as challenges we must tackle to help safeguard our members and their abilities to operate their farms and ranches,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

Aggressively working to secure passage of legislation that addresses both long- and short-term agricultural labor needs is a priority for AFBF, and the organization will continue to push for reforms as part of the ongoing national debate about immigration policy.

“America’s farmers and ranchers require a reliable and steady supply of labor, and the policies in place are simply not adequate to address this issue in a comprehensive, national scope,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “It has been too long in coming, but we will continue to work with our allies and members of Congress to get this job done.”

The board also approved the inclusion of efforts to advocate for standards and incentives strengthening the U.S. renewable fuels sector.
“Whether the issue is support for the renewable fuels standard, or key tax incentives targeted to sectors such as biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol, AFBF is focused to keep renewable fuels front and center as our nation continues to develop plans to address our energy needs,” Stallman said.
Another important priority is working to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ abilities to use agricultural biotechnology and other innovative technologies. That point also includes the organization’s resolve to make sure farmers and ranchers are represented in matters related to agronomic data compilation, so-called “big data,” and the associated systems and applications of those technologies in the field.
“Agriculture is a high-tech business,” Stallman said. “Farming and ranching is frequently on the cutting edge of science and as those tools are developed and scientifically proven, we need to ensure they are available. We also know that as science and technology leads to new ways to compile and use massive amounts of data, there must be some policies in place that consider the farmer’s point of view, and we will make sure that happens.”

The board-approved action plan also includes a comprehensive effort to oppose expansion of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

“As it now stands, there are federal proposals that would allow jurisdiction over so-called waters that are not even wet,” Stallman said. “That includes areas such as ditches that are dry for weeks and months on end. That represents little more than federal regulatory intrusion and would greatly hamper the ability of many farm families to put their land to productive use for food production.”
The board also directed AFBF to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ interests in debates on fiscal policy and tax reform.

“Any new tax schemes, by their nature, take money directly out of the pockets of our hand-working farm and ranch families, and we will continue to pursue policies that lessen our tax burdens,” Stallman said.

Many additional issues will warrant AFBF’s attention this year, Stallman explained, and through constant monitoring and attention, those issues will be addressed as they rise on the nation’s agenda.
“The 2014 strategic action plan, as set by the board, is built on the dedicated efforts of our grassroots members working together during our annual convention and throughout the year to achieve policy goals that will benefit all of agriculture, as well as the nation’s consumers and our customers around the world,” Stallman said.

- See more at: http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=38301#sthash.xRromPW8.dpuf

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Just in



  Idaho's farmers and ranchers saw record cash receipts in 2013, for the fourth consecutive year.

 Boise--A University of Idaho report says Idaho Ag cash receipts topped $7.82 billion in 2013, up 3 percent from 2012. About $4.3 billion of that total came from the state's livestock industries, with dairy farmers bringing in $2.57 billion while the sale of cattle and calves brought in $1.5 billion.

 The U of I reports crop receipts were led by potatoes with $965 million, followed by wheat at $732 million. Net farm income was projected at $2.73 billion for 2013, 56 percent above the 10-year average.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Just in from Capitol Hill


  


Farm Bill: Lucas Works on Dairy Language Fix

Washington--House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) rode to the rescue of small Western towns Wednesday and next hopes to save his farm bill-and himself -with a deal on new dairy language. Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Lucas's ranking Democrat, said late Wednesday that he had yet to see the draft dairy language and expressed some doubt -from what he did know on the topic-if it would work effectively.

But staff talks continued into Wednesday evening and there appears to be a concerted push to try to put to rest the remaining farm bill disputes before Congress leaves Friday for a weeklong recess. Dairy and payment limits on farm subsidies are the two biggest. If Lucas and his Senate counterpart, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), can reach compromises, they would be in far better shape when lawmakers return at the end of January.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Just in


Farm Bureau Delegates Set Public Policy Positions for 2014

SAN ANTONIO – Voting delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th annual meeting today approved resolutions that will provide the organization with authority from its grassroots members to push Congress toward the goal line on unfinished issues like the farm bill and ag labor.
“Securing victories on those issues is critical to our competitiveness as individual farmers and ranchers, and to our nation’s success as a food producer,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, who was re-elected to his eighth two-year term as the organization’s president. “Farm Bureau made progress on our priorities this past year, more so than most other organizations, and this year, our delegates have provided us direction to work with Congress to complete this agenda.”
On the farm labor front, delegates reaffirmed their strong support for meaningful ag labor reforms that ensure farmers and ranchers have access to workers when they are needed. Delegates also voted to support flexibility that would allow the employment of workers by more than one farmer.
“Farmers and ranchers need a reliable supply of labor,” Stallman said. “That is a simple truth. It’s about availability and flexibility – neither of which have been hallmarks of the system our farmers, ranchers and growers have operated under for many years. We must have a workable ag labor program.”
With congressional farm bill action nearing completion, delegates reaffirmed Farm Bureau’s policy, overwhelmingly determining that now is not the time to make changes.
“Congress is still haggling over dairy policy, but for the most part, they are very close to completing a five-year farm bill,” Stallman said. “It has been a long process, but substantial reforms have been made. Crop insurance has been strengthened so that farmers can play a role in determining the level of their safety net, and how much they are willing to invest for that coverage.”
Specifically on dairy-related issues, delegates reaffirmed policy supporting changes to the dairy safety net, including margin insurance programs.
On another livestock-related issue, delegates maintained their support for country of origin labeling and reiterated that it needs to be compliant with World Trade Organization rules. They also voted to support efforts to lengthen the term of grazing permits from 10 years to 20 years.
On other issues, delegates adopted new policy that supports the use of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial agricultural, forestry and other natural resource purposes. They also supported the requirement for drone users to gain the consent of the landowners, if operating below navigable airspace However, delegates opposed federal agencies’ use of drones for regulatory enforcement, litigation or natural resource inventory surveys.
Delegates approved new policy supporting the protection of proprietary data collected from farmers and maintaining that such data should remain their property. Delegates also voted to support efforts to educate farmers regarding the benefits and risks of collaborative data collection systems. They also approved policy stating that farmers should be compensated if companies market their propriety information, and that farmers should have the right to sell their proprietary data to another producer, such as in the case of a land sale. Delegates voted to oppose farmers’ data being held in a clearinghouse or database by any entity subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
Delegates also reaffirmed their support for the renewable fuels standard and approved a policy supporting renewable fuels tax incentives for the production of biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol and installation of blender pumps.
At the AFBF Annual Meeting, 357 voting delegates, representing every crop and livestock sector in the United States, deliberated on policies affecting farmers’ and ranchers’ productivity and profitability. The policies approved at the annual meeting will guide the nation’s largest general farm organization throughout 2014.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just in



Senators Demand OSHA Rein in Unlawful Regulatory Reach

Washington--The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration must stop its unlawful regulation of family farms, more than 40 Republican and Democratic senators wrote in a recent letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.  

For nearly four decades, Congress has included specific language in appropriations bills prohibiting OSHA from using appropriated funds to apply requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1976 to farming operations with 10 or fewer employees.  However, an OSHA memo issued in 2011 stating that many activities-including drying and fumigating grain-are subject to all OSHA requirements effectively expanded the agency's regulatory scope to nearly every farm in the country.      

"There are many farms that have grain dryers on-farm to address wet harvest conditions or fumigate grain to prevent pests from ruining a crop prior to marketing. These are basic, common, and responsible farming activities that OSHA has arbitrarily decided are non-exempt," the senators wrote.    

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just in from the AFBF Annual Meeting in San Antonio


State Farm Bureaus Honored for Excellence

SAN ANTONIO – State Farm Bureaus were presented awards at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention recognizing their excellence in membership achievement and implementation of outstanding programs serving Farm Bureau members in 2013.
The Awards for Excellence are awarded to state Farm Bureaus that have demonstrated outstanding achievements in six program areas: Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications. The Awards for Excellence winners by state and category are:
Alabama (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Arizona (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Arkansas (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); California (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Colorado (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; and Public Relations and Communications); and Florida (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications).
Georgia (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Idaho (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation and Public Relations and Communications); Illinois (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Indiana (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); and Iowa (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications).
Kansas (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services and Membership Initiatives); Kentucky (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); and Louisiana (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; and Public Relations and Communications).
Maryland (Education and Outreach; Member Services; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Massachusetts (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Michigan (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Minnesota (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Mississippi (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; and Public Relations and Communications); Missouri (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Montana (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications).
Nebraska (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; and Public Relations and Communications); Nevada (Education and Outreach; Member Services; and Public Relations and Communications); New Mexico (Public Relations and Communications); New York (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); North Carolina (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); and Ohio (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Oklahoma (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; and Public Relations and Communications); Oregon (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications).
Pennsylvania (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Rhode Island (Public Relations and Communications); South Carolina (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; and Membership Initiatives); South Dakota (Leadership Development; and Public Relations and Communications); Tennessee (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Texas (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); Utah (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications).
Virginia (Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications); and Wisconsin(Education and Outreach; Leadership Development; Member Services; Membership Initiatives; Policy Development and Implementation; and Public Relations and Communications).
President’s Awards were presented to states from each membership-size group that achieved quota and demonstrated superiority in the Awards for Excellence categories. The winning states and the number of President’s Awards earned are:
Arizona (3), Florida (4), Idaho (1), Iowa (4), Massachusetts (6), Michigan (2), Missouri (1), Montana (2), Pennsylvania (4), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (3), Texas (3) and Wisconsin (2).
New Horizon Awards, presented to states with the most innovative new program, were awarded to: Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.
The Pinnacle Award, the highest award a state can earn for program and membership achievement, was awarded to: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas. Pinnacle Award winners received a special pin to commemorate their achievements.

Just in from AFBF Annual Meeting in San Antonio


Drones Hold Great Promise for Agriculture

SAN ANTONIO – Small unmanned aircraft systems, better known as drones, hold great promise for agriculture, Kansas State University agronomist Kevin Price told farmers at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention.
Agriculture applications for drones in development include data collection on crop health, vigor and yields, tracking the spread of invasive plant species and monitoring cattle feedlots. Data collection of field images by cameras mounted on drones is extremely accurate – to within 1 inch – Price said.
“The biggest challenge is extracting useful data from the ‘tons’ of it that is collected,” Price said. “New software needs to be created that can take data and transform it into useful information.”
The economic potential of drones is tremendous in terms of precision agriculture but will not be realized without approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. States with the most agriculture stand to reap the greatest benefits from the technology.
“About 80 percent of economic income from drone technology will be in agriculture,” Price said.
Drone technology continues to develop rapidly while costs are declining, Price explained. However, he cautioned farmers that many companies are attempting to capitalize on the strong interest in drone technology by selling the wrong aircraft to anyone who will buy them just to make a quick buck

Monday, January 13, 2014

YF&R news from San Antonio


Dwight and Jamie Little of Idaho were named runner-ups in the YF&R Achievement Award

Young Farmers and Ranchers Win Big

SAN ANTONIO, January 13, 2014 – Winners of the Young Farmers & Ranchers Achievement Award, Discussion Meet and Excellence in Agriculture competitions were announced today at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention. Young farmers and ranchers from around the country competed for the awards by demonstrating knowledge of and achievement in agriculture, as well as commitment to promoting the agriculture industry.
Brandon and Katherine Whitt of Tennessee won the Achievement Award. They are the winners of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM. The Whitts will also receive paid registration to attend the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference in Virginia Beach, Va., in February.
Runners-up in the Achievement Award contest are Shane and Mary Courtney of Kentucky,  Jacob and Danielle Larson of Florida and Dwight and Jamie Little of Idaho. The runners-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 65A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.
The Achievement Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who have excelled in their farming or ranching operations and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Participants are evaluated on a combination of their agricultural operation’s growth and financial progress, Farm Bureau leadership and leadership outside of Farm Bureau.
Nathan Prill of Michigan won the Discussion Meet. He will have his choice of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or a 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.
The three runners-up in the Discussion Meet are Caleb May of Illinois, Shelby Watson of Maryland and Chris Pollack of Wisconsin.
Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 55A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.
The Discussion Meet simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected. Participants are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on a predetermined topic.
Linda McClanahan of Kentucky won the Excellence in Agriculture Award. She will receive her choice of either a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or 2014 GMC Sierra, courtesy of GM, plus free registration to the 2014 AFBF YF&R Leadership Conference.
The three runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture competition are Dr. Emily Buck of Ohio, Jennifer Hatcher and Chuck Yoest of Tennessee and W.P. and Amy Johnson of Virginia. Each runner-up will receive a Case IH Farmall 45A, courtesy of Case IH, and $3,000 in cash and STIHL merchandise, courtesy of STIHL.
The Excellence in Agriculture Award recognizes young farmers and ranchers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, their leadership ability and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations.

Just in from San Antonio


Stallman: Grassroots Strength, Strategy Drive Success

SAN ANTONIO – With an appreciation for agriculture’s heritage, farmers and ranchers are focused on the opportunities and challenges of the present, keeping their eyes on the road ahead, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.
“If we keep our commitment to learn from the past, look toward the future and never let go of the wheel, I know that Farm Bureau will have a bright future,” Stallman told about 7,000 Farm Bureau members who gathered in San Antonio for AFBF’s 95th Annual Convention.
Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas, also spoke about the example Farm Bureau members set during what was a bitterly divided Congress in 2013.
“This very gathering is about people from different regions and backgrounds coming together to develop policy that benefits all of American agriculture,” he noted.
While lawmakers  are close to the finish line on the farm bill and the Water Resources Development Act, farmers and ranchers can’t wait any longer for effective, long-term solutions to the agricultural labor crisis, which has forced growers to leave millions of dollars worth of crops unharvested and threatens the country’s food security.
“Farmers and ranchers have been waiting for Congress to take action and work for solutions, waiting for them to put the nation’s needs above politics,” Stallman said.
Despite this time of congressional gridlock, few organizations have seen their key priorities passed by even one house of Congress, much less two, Stallman noted.
“The progress we’ve made speaks to our grassroots strength, our strategic focus and our credibility as the nation’s Voice of Agriculture.”
On the regulatory front, securing farmers’ and ranchers’ privacy is a growing concern, as are attempts to challenge farmers’ ability to use modern technology to increase crop yields and food quality.
“Instead of focusing on how to feed more and more people with existing land and water, and instead of allowing us to use food staples to address nutritional deficiencies in less-developed countries, some are intent on standing in the way,” Stallman said of state legislation and ballot initiatives that would require labels for foods made with biotech ingredients or even ban the use of biotechnology outright.
With the Environmental Protection Agency late last year putting the wheels in motion to propose extending federal regulatory authority to nearly every body of water in the country – and ultimately regulating so-called “waters” that aren’t even wet most of the time – farmers and ranchers are bracing for a fight.
Farm Bureau has also been working through the courts to stop EPA’s attempts to broaden its regulatory reach.
Disappointed with a loss in its case against the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay pollution limit rules, AFBF, along with Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, has appealed the ruling.
“Once again, we are saddled-up for the long ride in our fight for rational regulations that allow farmers to continue feeding America,” Stallman said.
Stallman highlighted West Virginia poultry grower Lois Alt’s court battle against EPA’s unlawful water regulations as a testament to the powerful results that can be achieved when people work for the good of the whole.
“Whether it’s a regulatory, legal or legislative issue, just think how much Farm Bureau could achieve if everyone was like Lois Alt – taking a long-term view and taking a stand for America’s farmers and ranchers,” he said.
One challenge that Farm Bureau has turned into an opportunity is the aging demographic in agriculture.  Farm Bureau’s rural development initiatives – like the organization’s partnership with the Department of Agriculture on Start to Farm and its support for the recently launched Farmer Veteran Coalition – put beginning farmers and ranchers on the path to success.
Stallman encouraged Farm Bureau members to take part in the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s effort to help create opportunities on farms for those returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just in from San Antonio



Open Dialogue Key to Changing Conversation about GMOs

SAN ANTONIO – Despite the head start biotechnology opponents have, there’s still plenty of opportunity for farmers, ranchers and the biotechnology industry to change the conversation about genetically modified organisms, Dr. Cathleen Enright told attendees at a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention. The key to making that change happen is an open and transparent dialogue with consumers, according to Enright, Biotechnology Industry Organization executive vice president, food and agriculture.
While the adoption of GM crops is on the rise around the world, so is consumer opposition in the U.S.
“More and more organizations are working to create fear, attack agriculture and malign biotechnology companies,” Enright said.
And if the mandatory ballot labeling activity in more than 30 states in 2013 is any indication, the anti-GMO message is getting through. There are three components common to all these legislative efforts and ballot initiatives: they are framed as consumers’ “right to know;” they exempted alcohol, dairy, meat and restaurant food; and they would allow lawsuits based on asserted non-compliance.
“They’re trying to change market conditions through legislation. Their goal is to convince you to buy something else,” Enright said. Opposing these efforts on a state-by-state basis is unsustainable and untenable, she added.
Anti-GMO groups were among the first to use social media to establish their message and rally people around their cause, but biotech supporters are catching up quickly. With research showing that people who have unfavorable opinions about GMOs base their purchasing decisions on other factors, like price, there is clearly an opening for farmers, ranchers and other biotech proponents, Enright said.
The first step to opening that dialogue is acknowledging people’s skepticism about food made with GM ingredients.
“We have great stories that are not being heard because we are not believed,” she said. “Only when our audiences understand we are listening to them will they listen to us.”
To that end, BIO last year launched the GMO Answers website, through which they invite anyone to ask any question about biotechnology. And ask people did. From July through December, 626 questions were posed and 404 were answered. Another 100-plus are in the process of being answered. Also during this time, there were more than 120,000 visits to the site and more than 526,000 page views, with visitors spending more than 5 minutes on the site on average – a significant amount of time. The questions are answered by independent, third-party experts.
Enright also credits the website for the uptick in biotech coverage by the mainstream media.
“Who wouldn’t be interested in asking Monsanto, Dow or DuPont the tough questions?” Enright asked.
Whether it’s a considerable undertaking like GMO Answers or a conversation between a farmer and grocery store customer, the main goal is to give people the whole story so they can make up their own minds.
There’s too much at stake not to succeed, she added. “We are going to need as much knowledge, diversity and innovation as possible to feed the world.”

Just in from AFBF Annual Meeting in San Antonio



Expected Improvements for Livestock Markets in 2014

SAN ANTONIO – Improved weather conditions and moderation in feed prices could show continued improvement for livestock markets in 2014, according to Dr. Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist and professor of agribusiness at Oklahoma State University. Peel addressed farmers and ranchers from across the country today during an issues conference at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 95th Annual Convention.
“The latter part of 2013 turned things around for most of the country, with drought conditions receding and increased market prices for beef,” Peel said. “Livestock markets are looking strong for 2014.”
Peel expressed extreme optimism for the cattle sector, predicting herd expansion for the next several years.
“Depending on the market and weather conditions, we have the potential to be in expansion mode for the rest of this decade. We haven’t seen this scenario since the '90s,” Peel said.
With cattle numbers at record lows since the 1950s, Peel said farmers and ranchers need to focus on expanding herds and responding to current markets.
“The incentives are there. We are at record prices and will move higher still,” he said. “But how profitable producers will be is a function of managing costs and production.”
Export markets will continue to be a strong outlet for farmers and ranchers in 2014, although Peel estimated a slight decrease in beef exports due to higher prices and lower production. American farmers are adapting to current conditions and are competitive in foreign markets, Peel said.

Just in from AFBF in San Antonio



Idaho Farm Bureau members attend AFBF Annual Meeting
San Antonio--More than 90 members of the Idaho Farm Bureau and an estimated 7,000 farm and ranch leaders from throughout the nation are attending the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th Annual Convention in San Antonio. The meeting started January 12 and runs through Wednesday. Numerous speakers will be on hand to address topics, ranging from crop and livestock outlooks to farm policy, trade and technology.

During the event Idaho and the AFBF’s voting delegates will debate and adopt grassroots policies and select leaders to guide the organization throughout the year.  Overall there are 362 farmer delegates representing the Farm Bureaus of 50 states and Puerto Rico who will adopt farmer-written resolutions to set AFBF’s official policy positions for 2014 during this year’s annual convention business session.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Beef Exports Up


US Beef Exports up
 
WASHINGTON -- Beef has long been a quintessential American staple, captured decades ago in the marketing slogan "Beef. It's What's for Dinner."



These days, however, more and more of the red meat is making its way from farms in the United States to tables in numerous countries abroad, where many diets are incorporating more beef.

One of the biggest increases has been in Hong Kong, one of two regions that are part of China but have separate trade policies.



According to U.S. Meat Export Federation data, Hong Kong's imports of U.S. beef have been steadily climbing since 2004, after a mad cow disease scare in 2003 settled down. The value of U.S. beef exports to Hong Kong has doubled since 2010, up to $331 million from $155 million. The number was only $198,000 in 2004.



As for mainland China, U.S. beef has been banned there since the mad cow scare, although there are signs that might end. If it does, that represents a major reopened market -- and many new opportunities -- for U.S. beef farmers.



At technical trade talks in Beijing in December, Chinese officials promised to ease restrictions on beef from the U.S. in 2014.



The recent spikes in Chinese demand for beef are due to a few factors. According to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report, one reason is food-safety incidents with Chinese poultry and pork, which pushed consumers toward preferring beef.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

EPA alert




Ag Issues in the Courts

Washington--More and more new policies are decided in a courtroom and American Farm Bureau General Counsel Ellen Steen said in Thursday's Newsline that three pending cases could have huge impacts on the nation's farmers and ranchers. One of these is a water-related case the Farm Bureau is appealing after a court ruled the Environmental Protection Agency could issue a "pollution diet" on a region of this country.

"For us it really isn't a regional issue at all," Steen said. "It's about the scope of EPA's power to require changes in land use activity, to micro-manage land use decision-making, across a vast landscape to achieve water quality goals."

Monday, January 6, 2014

Just in



GOVERNOR OTTER OUTLINES “TARGETED, RESPONSIBLE, SUSTAINABLE” BUDGET PRIORITIES

Boise – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said today in his annual State of the State and Budget Address that his highest priority for 2014 and beyond is investing in Idaho’s “K-through-Career” education and workforce development system in a way that is “targeted, responsible and sustainable.”

The Governor reiterated his commitment to “limited, transparent and accountable government that enables economic opportunity and empowers citizens to reach their own best potential.” He said those principles also apply to his five-year plan for implementing the recommendations of his school improvement task force.

That includes a budget request for $54.7 million in fiscal 2015 specifically toward achieving those goals.

“I believe that implementing them will substantially move our policies in the right direction for Idaho’s future. That includes making a significant start on a multi-year effort to restore funding to public schools that was withheld during the prolonged economic downturn,” Otter said. “It also involves carefully tracking how effectively taxpayer investments are put to work in our classrooms.”

The Governor also emphasized the synergy between education improvement and creation of career opportunities through economic development, recommending investments in higher education and professional-technical programs throughout Idaho that are “measured, manageable and within our means.”

Elsewhere in his address, Governor Otter:

·         Reiterated his support for the Idaho Core Standards and legislative efforts to further clarify the importance the State places on the privacy and security of student data.
·         Announced that every Idaho public elementary and middle school is expected to be connected to the Idaho Education Network (IEN) by the end of fiscal 2015. Idaho’s broadband Internet education system already links every public high school in the state.
·         Proposed funding for local pilot projects aimed at improving school safety and security. 
·         Proposed funding for high-demand academic programs at Idaho’s four-year college and universities.
·         Proposed funding to expand the University of Idaho law school program in Boise to a second year.
·         Proposed increasing Idaho’s investment in the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls.
·         Proposed investment in an Advanced Manufacturing Initiative at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), North Idaho College (NIC), the College of Western Idaho (CWI), Idaho State University, Eastern Idaho Technical College, and Lewis-Clark State College.
·         Proposed funding for outreach programs in Idaho Falls for CSI and in Sandpoint for NIC, as well as a nursing initiative at CWI.
·         Proposed setting aside $35 million in the Budget Stabilization Fund, $29 million in the Public Education Stabilization Fund, and $7 million in the Higher Education Stabilization Fund.
·         Announced that the Idaho’s standard unemployment insurance rate for 2014 is down almost 31 percent. That will save Idaho employers almost $75 million.
·         Stated that his support for a third consecutive year of tax relief “must be in the context of advancing our goals for Idaho’s education system.” 
·         Announced the achievement of his “Project 60” goal of growing Idaho’s total economic activity to $60 billion a year.
·         Continued his call for changing the direction of Idaho’s Medicaid system to one that is more carefully focused on prevention, outcomes and living within our means before expanding Medicaid as proposed by Obamacare.
·         Proposed a one-time $15 million investment in water supply improvement projects statewide.
·         Proposed one-time spending of $2 million to create a Wolf Control Fund, with ongoing costs covered by annual contributions from the livestock industry and sportsmen.
   

'16 Season Over

Rigby Rroduce outside of Rigby reached a milestone this past week. The 2016 season just ended. The last potatoes of last years crop were...