Friday, May 30, 2014


USDA Designates 5 Counties in Idaho as Primary Natural Disaster Areas
With Assistance to Producers in Surrounding State

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Butte, Clark, Custer, Jefferson and Washington counties in Idaho as primary natural disaster areas due to a recent drought.

“Our hearts go out to those Idaho farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 

“President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Idaho producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Farmers and ranchers in the following counties in Idaho also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Those counties are:

Adams
Boise
Fremont
Madison
Bingham
Bonneville
Gem
Payette
Blaine
Elmore
Lemhi
Valley

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ditch The Rule

Just in

Ag Agenda: It’s time for some field work


Bob StallmanWashington-Farmers have thrown open the doors of the machine shed, greased up the gears and cranked up their diesels. It's farming season!
With Congress in session only a few days between now and August, this also is a good time to gear down and throttle up on agriculture's policy priorities.
Refueling immigration reform
In February, thousands participated in the #IFarmImmigration campaign to bring attention to farmers' and ranchers' labor challenges. That same month, more than 600 business organizations, including Farm Bureau, signed a letter urging House leaders to move forward with immigration reform.
Since then, the engine has idled a bit, and we can't let that happen. It's time to tell Congress to refuel immigration reform. Without a legal, stable supply of labor, farmers will continue to face labor shortages and lost crops, and the public will face the loss of economic activity from agriculture and the risk that more of their food will come from other countries.
Clean up the pile of expired tax provisions
Some in Congress are working to renew tax policies that expired last year. Congress has allowed the work of addressing these tax provisions to pile up like a stack of off-season invoices.
One of the most important tax provisions for farmers and ranchers is enhanced small business expensing, which helps them upgrade to more efficient and environmentally friendly equipment, purchase livestock and build certain farm structures. Because farmers operate on tight margins, the ability to deduct these expenses immediately can give a farmer a way to smooth out volatile fluctuations in farm income.
Congress also needs to extend tax credits for renewable energy production, donations of conservation easements, food donations to charitable groups and other tax provisions that help farmers and ranchers be productive and profitable while helping to achieve societal goals.
Field scout for regulatory threats
To keep a crop healthy, the farmer must keep an eye out for pests and anything in the field that doesn't appear to be thriving. The EPA's "Waters of the U.S." rule threatens to drain the vigor from routine conservation and farming activities. Landowners would have to secure federal permits to make ordinary changes to their cropland, build fences or other structures, or apply fertilizer or pesticides even in parts of fields that are wet only during rainstorms. EPA wants to classify these areas that shed rainfall, and features such as otherwise dry ditches, as "waters of the U.S." subject to federal regulation. Farm Bureau is asking Congress to weed out that proposal, and we commend the 231 representatives and 46 senators who have signed letters urging EPA to "Ditch the Rule."
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Just in


EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ analysis misses the mark


Washington-EPA claims it is not broadening jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act in its proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule, but a look at the million-plus acres that could be affected by the proposal says otherwise. 

While EPA's analysis of the proposal determined there would be only 1,300 additional acres that would be regulated under the Clean Water Act, American Farm Bureau Federation analysis shows the proposed rule could affect more than 106 million acres, and that's looking exclusively from a wetlands perspective.  The hundreds of millions of acres impacted could include, cropland, pastureland, Conservation Reserve Program acreage, rangeland, forestland and other agricultural lands, warned AFBF economist Veronica Nigh. 

"There aren't going to be only a few growers who have to deal with the proposed rule. It's extensive, and it's going to affect almost all farmers and ranchers in the United States," said Nigh, who noted the wetlands expansion is just one of many new definitions Farm Bureau is concerned about in the proposed rule.

"Next, we'll start measuring how other land categories will be affected because this incredible scope of the implication of wetlands is just the tip of the iceberg," she said.

Published on April 21 in the Federal Register, the more-than-111,000-word "Waters of the U.S." proposed rule reflects EPA's latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The rule could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes.
AFBF President Bob Stallman described the rule as an end-run around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike.

"Congress and the courts have both said that the 50 states, not EPA, have power to decide how farming and other land uses should be restricted. It's time to ditch this rule," Stallman said.  
Among other things, the rule would expand federal control over land features such as ditches and areas of agricultural land that are wet only during storms.
EPA says its new rule clarifies the scope of the Clean Water Act. However, EPA's "clarification" is achieved by categorically classifying most water features and even dry land as "waters of the United States."

If carried out, Farm Bureau says, ordinary field work, fence construction or even planting could require a federal permit. The result will be a wave of new regulation or outright prohibitions on routine farming practices and other land uses.

To help Farm Bureau members and others express the need for EPA to "Ditch the Rule," Farm Bureau has launched a website at ditchtherule.fb.org. Focused on topics and analysis related to the "waters of the U.S." proposed rule, the easy-to-navigate site includes several sections: Take Action, Go Social, Find Answers and Get Resources. Visitors may also sign up to learn more, comment on the proposed rule and send tweets using the hashtag #DitchTheRule.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Just in


USDA Provides Assistance to Agricultural Producers to Improve Water Quality


LITTLE ROCK—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that $33 million in assistance will be provided to farmers and ranchers to make conservation improvements that will improve water quality in 174 watersheds.

The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf by Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Ann Mills during a Hypoxia Task Force meeting,held this week in Little Rock, Ark.
"This targeted approach provides a way to accelerate voluntary lands conservation
that improve water quality and focuses water quality monitoring and assessment funds where they're most needed," Mills said. "When hundreds of farms take action in one area,one watershed can make a real difference to improving water quality."
Funding is provided through the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), administered by the
 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Friday, May 23, 2014


Ag Secretary Vilsack Announces plan addressing insect problem in National Forests  
DENVER-Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a plan to help 94 national forest areas in 35 states including Idaho to tackle the problem of insects and disease that weaken forests and increase the risk of forest fire. 
"USDA and the Forest Service are working to improve the health of our national forests and reduce the risk of forest fire," said Vilsack. "The designations announced today, made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, will support the Forest Service's ability to work with partners to restore areas within the National Forest System that have been impacted by insects and disease."
The new Farm Bill amends the Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003 to allow the Forest Service to more quickly plan projects for insect and disease treatments within designated areas, in an effort to increase the pace and scale of restoration across the National Forest System. Using the new tools in the Farm Bill, restoration projects in these designated areas have to be developed in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders and must meet environmental safeguards.
Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell designated over 45 million acres* of the National Forest System in response to requests from governors whose states are experiencing, or are at risk of, an insect or disease epidemic. Insect and disease damage makes forests more susceptible to wildfire.
"Working with local partners to combat insect and disease infestation has long been one of our top priorities, and this new authority gives us additional tools to implement landscape scale projects," said Chief Tidwell. "We will continue our commitment to involve the public as we develop and implement projects in these areas."
In addition, Vilsack also announced today another Farm Bill initiative to help remove insect infected trees from National Forest Service lands. The Biomass Crop Assistance Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency, supports the harvesting and transporting of forest residue to an energy facility. These payments are designed for energy generation while reducing fire, insect and disease threats on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. USDA announced that the program has been reauthorized for $25 million annually with funding becoming available on June 9th.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just in


American Farm Bureau Endorses State-Focused Sage Grouse Bill

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau Federation has endorsed a bill to prohibit the federal government from listing the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act as long as states prepare and carry out plans to protect the species within their borders.

The Sage Grouse Protection and Conservation Act, introduced today by Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) would empower states to protect the bird with habitat that covers 186 million acres and 11 states. It is expected that Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) will soon be introducing companion legislation in the Senate.

“The bird’s range is vast and because of that the wildlife management and conservation efforts for the species would vary widely from state to state,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “It is clear that conservation plans developed at the state and local levels provide the greatest opportunity for success.” 

Stallman said that evidence shows locally developed programs, in which  landowners played a role in development, are better received and more effective than federally mandated top-down programs to which landowners can only comment after the fact.

“States have better knowledge of the landscape, needs of species that inhabit the landscape, and needs of landowners,” Stallman said, adding that a number of new and ongoing state and local efforts to achieve stable, healthy populations of sage grouse should be allowed sufficient time to demonstrate success prior to federal intervention from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Approximately 76 percent of all listed species occur to some extent on privately owned lands and more than one-third occur exclusively on privately owned lands. While the sage grouse proposal is specific, a broader application of the state-focused model could prove to be successful in prioritizing effective species conservation efforts by state wildlife agencies and preventing unnecessary federal intervention.”

Just in


USDA Announces Funding for Advanced Communications Technology in Rural Areas
WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to enhance telecommunications and broadcast services in rural areas.
"This funding will help small, rural communities across the country gain access to communications technologies to improve health, education and other services," Vilsack said. "It will help open doors to the global marketplace. It will deliver specialized medical care and educational services. It will ensure that public television stations can fully convert to digital signals and transmit public safety, health, educational and cultural programming in isolated areas."
The funding is available from the Community Connect Grant Program, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, and the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program.
Through the Community Connect Grant Program, USDA plans to provide up to $13 million to fund broadband in unserved areas to support economic growth and deliver enhanced educational, health care and public safety services. Awardees must serve an area where broadband does not exist, provide a community center with broadband access, and offer broadband service to all residential and business customers. Details are on page 29405 of today's Federal Register.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just in from Washington



US Forest Service to Add Aircraft to Fight Wildfires this Summer 

WASHINGTON- In the face of what is shaping up to be a catastrophic fire season in the Southwest, the U.S. Forest Service is adding four additional aircraft to its next-generation firefighting fleet, bringing the total amount of aircraft to 21 large airtankers and more than 100 helicopters.

The new aircraft will enter service in the coming weeks and support over 10,000 firefighters for the 2014 wildfire season. "We continue to increase and modernize the fleet of aircraft available for wildland fire suppression activities," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell.

"These new planes will combine with our existing fleet to support to our heroes on the ground fighting wildfires to keep our resources and communities safe." The Forest Service is bringing into duty the first time this fire season a second DC10, and three BAe-146s. The DC10 cruises at 430 mph and can carry up to 11,600 gallons of retardant.

Both the BAe-146 and a C130 originally brought on last fall cruise at roughly 350 mph and can carry more than 3,000 gallons of retardant. Eight C130s equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) are also now completing their recertification and training for this season. The Forest Service will also bring additional large airtankers in from Canada if needed.

Airtankers drop fire retardant that reduces the intensity and rate of spread of wildfires so that firefighters can construct firelines safely. Climate change, pests and disease, and suburban sprawl have combined to portend more severe wildfire seasons in recent years. Over the last three decades, fire season lengths have increased by 60-80 days and annual acreages burned have more than doubled to over 7 million acres annually.

 In addition, growing housing development in forests has put more people and houses in harms' way, also making firefighting efforts more expensive. Earlier this year, the Forest Service announced that it was projected to exceed its annual firefighting budget in July, two months before the end of the fiscal year. In its 2015 budget proposal, the Obama Administration proposed a special disaster relief cap adjustment for use when costs of fighting fires exceed Forest Service and Department of the Interior budgets. The proposal tracks closely with legislation authored by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho, and Representatives Mike Simpson of Idaho and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Just in

The farm bill: How it works


Farm bill webinarWashington-The American Farm Bureau Federation has produced a new series of webinars and launched a website to help farmers, landowners and other stakeholders better understand the provisions of the 2014 farm bill. Featured content includes videos on key commodity program and crop insurance provisions of the farm bill.

"We have distilled down a massive and complex piece of legislation-the 2014 farm bill-into several 'bite-size' pieces, with the goal of helping farmers and managers understand how it will affect their farms," said John Anderson, deputy chief economist with AFBF.

"Now that safety net and risk management tools important in crop planning are in place, along with the new program for dairies, the next step is for farmers to be able to move forward with confidence in determining the best options for their individual farms," Anderson said. "We created the farm bill video series with that goal in mind."

The webinars include a farm bill overview describing the basic provisions of the commodity title, including a description of the decisions related to program participation that will need to be made by farmers and landowners. Four other webinars go in-depth on the Price Loss Coverage and Supplemental Coverage Option, the Agricultural Risk Coverage Program, the Stacked Income Protection Program for Cotton and the Dairy Margin Protection Program.
Links to useful farm bill information from USDA, land-grant universities and other organizations also are available on the website.

Monday, May 19, 2014

YF and R news



Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture spoke to the AFBF YF&R Leadership Committee's National Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Just in

Congress creeping along on tax extenders

Washington-With mid-term elections looming for Congress, few have high hopes for much action on Capitol Hill, but recent movement in both the House and Senate indicates a retroactive extension of a series of lapsed tax provisions-some of which are extremely important to farmers and ranchers-could be one of the few issues lawmakers address before the year is out.

The Senate as early as this week could take up a bill extending for two years more than 50 tax provisions that expired in 2013, including Section 179 expensing, which allows small businesses to write off immediately capital investments of as much as $500,000, instead of depreciating them over several years. 

At a hearing earlier this spring American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman explained to lawmakers the importance of Section 179's immediate expensing to farming.

"Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business," he said. "In order to remain profitable and be competitive, farm equipment, buildings, and storage facilities must be continually upgraded and replaced. This provision allows agricultural producers to reduce maintenance costs, take advantage of labor-saving advances, become more energy efficient and adopt technology that is environmentally friendly."

The Senate bill, the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act  (S. 2260), also includes bonus depreciation, which is an additional 50 percent bonus depreciation for the purchase of new capital assets, including agricultural equipment; the Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, a $1.01 per gallon income tax credit for cellulosic biofuel sold for fuel plus an additional first-year, 50-percent bonus depreciation for cellulosic biofuel production facilities; and a $1.00 per-gallon tax credit for production of biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels.

The Community and Distributed Wind Investment Tax Credit, which gives the option to take an investment tax credit in lieu of the Production Tax Credit, and a provision encouraging donations of conservations easements are also part of the measure. 

For two reasons the House will not take up the Senate's bill.  First, tax legislation must originate in the House.  Second, there's much buzz in the Republican-led House about making some of these extenders permanent. 

In late April, the House's tax writing panel, the Ways and Means Committee, approved five separate bills making permanent some of the provisions that expired at the end of last year, including Section 179. Last week, one of those bills-the research and development credit legislation-was passed on the House floor. 

If Congress can't push the tax extenders through before the election, they could be taken up in a post-election lame-duck session.  Although any lame-duck votes will be taken under the current Senate and House leadership, the outcome of the election-specifically whether the Democrats hold onto the Senate-could affect how the tax extenders are handled.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Just in: Ditch the rule

Capitol Hill voices join call for EPA to ditch proposed Clean Water Act rule


Ditch the Rule-smallWashington-Hundreds of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are joining farmers, ranchers and other landowners in challenging EPA's recently proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule, which  could ultimately lead to the unlawful expansion of federal regulation to cover routine farming and ranching practices as well as other common private land uses, such as building homes.

Published on April 21 in the Federal Register, the more-than-111,000-word "Waters of the U.S." proposed rule reflects EPA's latest interpretation of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

"This rule is an end-run around congressional intent and rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, alike, and it's clearly not only farmers and ranchers who feel this way," said Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation executive director of public policy. "We appreciate the many lawmakers from across the country who are standing up for agriculture, small businesses and rural communities in telling EPA it's time to ditch this rule."

In early May, 231 House members, led by U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), sent a letter to EPA and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers urging them to back off EPA's unsound proposal to expand federal reach under the Clean Water Act.

"The rule is flawed in a number of ways," the lawmakers wrote. "The most problematic of these flaws concerns the significant expansion of areas defined as 'waters of the U.S.' by effectively removing the word 'navigable' from the definition of the CWA. Based on a legally and scientifically unsound view of the 'significant nexus' concept espoused by Justice Kennedy, the [proposed] rule would place features such as ditches, ephemeral drainages, ponds (natural or man-made), prairie potholes, seeps, flood plains, and other occasionally or seasonally wet areas under federal control."

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy used the term "significant nexus" in his concurring opinion to Rapanos v. United States. 

Last week, the Senate Western and Congressional Western caucuses sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Like the House letter and others sent by individual members, the caucuses pointed out the significant costs of the proposed rule for farmers, ranchers, homeowners and businesses.  The costs would come in the form of additional permit application expenses, mitigation requirements and environmental analysis-and this presumes the agencies would issue a request permit in the first place. Violating these requirements could cost individual landowners thousands of dollars per day.

"The threat of ruinous penalties for alleged noncompliance with the CWA is also likely to become more common given the proposed rule's expansive approach. For example, the EPA's disputed classification of a small, local creek as a 'water of the United States' could cost as much as $187,500 per day in civil penalties for Wyoming resident Andrew Johnson. Similar uncertainty established under the proposed rule will ensure that expanding federal control over intrastate waters will substantially interfere with the ability of individual landowners to use their property," wrote the caucuses, which are led by Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Congressional Western Caucus co-chairs Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).

To help Farm Bureau members and others express the need for EPA to "Ditch the Rule," Farm Bureau has launched a Ditch the Rule website at ditchtherule.fb.org. Focused on topics and analysis related to the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corp of Engineers' recent release of the "waters of the U.S." proposed rule, the easy-to-navigate site includes several sections: Take Action, Go Social, Find Answers and Get Resources. Visitors may also sign up to learn more, comment on the proposed rule and send tweets using the hashtag #DitchTheRule. 

- See more at: http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=38745#sthash.6LxfDF1T.dpuf

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Just in

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Murtaugh--Under clear blues skies, more than 150 people attended the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's 75th anniversary in Murtaugh.

The Federation got its start in that hamlet back in September 1939, when farmers from Pocatello, Twin Falls, Lava and Filer met with representatives of the American Farm Bureau to form an Idaho Farm Bureau. The minutes from that first meeting was handed out everyone attending in the folds of the program.

Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley addressed the crowd saying it makes sense that the founder met in Murtaugh, "Under these blue skies, why wouldn't they meet here?"  Forming the Idaho Farm Bureau, Priestley said was the first step into the organizations long tradition of grassroot politics, a tradition that continues to this day.

An audio history of the Farm Bureau was played followed by remarks by Mayor Dee Hunsaker who said its fitting that the Farm Bureau got its start at one of the states main agricultural hubs, and a community known for hardworking farmers.

Farm Bureau members, staffers and a choir from Murtaugh Elementary added to the special event unveiling a stone monument at the corner of City Hall. "The Farm Bureau, it was formed by farmers by farmers, that's why its still going, getting bigger every year," said Kent Mason of Murtaugh.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just in


Idaho Farm Bureau Observes 75th Anniversary in Murtaugh today

Murtaugh--The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation will observe its 75th Anniversary in Murtaugh, Idaho at 2-pm this afternoon in front of town hall.

The public is invited to join in the celebration.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Just in


Farm Bureau again calls for second draft of food safety rules


Washington-With the understanding that significant changes will have to be made to the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rule for animal feed, Farm Bureau is again urging officials to put a second draft of the proposed rule out for public comment. 

"Given the complexity of the proposed rules, the current process of responding to comments on this draft rule with a final rule as a next step does not allow FDA to craft a sound and operable food safety framework.  An interim step, such as a second draft rule or interim final rule, is needed to work through the regulatory process with adequate stakeholder input," Farm Bureau wrote in recent comments.

Further, the second draft of all the FSMA-related proposed rules should be made available for thorough review as to how they are intended to work together, according to Farm Bureau. 
"FDA says that five rules comprise the core of its risk-based framework-produce safety, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, third-party audit certification and preventative controls for human food and for animal feed.  Because all five rules contain overlapping provisions that together affect our members both directly and indirectly, it is critical that they be evaluated in context as a complete package," Farm Bureau said.

The organization also submitted detailed comments on the specifics of the animal feed rule. 
Farm Bureau's central concern with parts of the proposed animal feed rule (and the other proposed FSMA rules) is that they are significantly more onerous than Congress intended when it approved the underlying law establishing a risk-based food and feed safety system.  Among the feed safety issues Farm Bureau addressed are the definition of "farm," exemptions for low-risk activities associated with raw agricultural commodities (RACs) other than produce, and preventive controls requirements. 
While the organization appreciates FDA's recognition of farms as appropriately exempt from facility registration in general and in regard to this rule specifically, the farm definition is too limited to encompass other normal farm activities, including feed manufacturing on a limited scale. 

"Particularly in geographically isolated areas or locations where only a small number of farms are present, it is not unusual for a farm to add value to grains and other feedstuffs grown on its operation by mixing animal feed that can then be sold to neighboring farms," Farm Bureau said. In a handful of areas that don't have sufficient retail feed distribution, like Alaska, for example, purchasing feed from a neighboring farm might be the only way for a farmer to feed his livestock.

Farm Bureau noted its agreement with FDA on the agency's intent to exempt facilities that store RACs other than fruits and vegetables from requirements that would be established within its proposed current good manufacturing practices regulation and its proposed preventative controls regulation.

These exemptions should also apply to facilities like grain elevators, which, although they engage in activities customarily performed for the safe or effective storage of RACs other than fruits and vegetables, are not exempt from these proposed regulations because their activities fall outside FDA's unreasonably narrow proposed definition for "holding."

"Since FDA has chosen a very tight and unrealistic interpretation within this context, any post-harvest activities-even those inherently associated with storage of RACs, such as drying, screening, cleaning, conditioning, fumigating and blending-effectively negate the exemption for facilities.  This is impractical and counterproductive to the overall goal of risk-based feed safety for the animal and the public," according to Farm Bureau.

The proposed animal feed rule's preventative controls requirements is another area in which the FDA is overstepping.  The core aspects of FDA's proposed regulation would essentially require that all preventative controls implemented for hazards identified as being "reasonably likely to occur" be handled like a "critical control point" that has been established within a formal hazard analysis and critical control point plan, similar to the preventive controls regulation for processed foods for humans.  This approach is not consistent with Congress' intent when lawmakers gave FDA authority under FSMA to create a separate hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls rule specific to animal feed, Farm Bureau said.  Congress recognized that the potential safety hazards and commensurate risk associated with animal feed are vastly different than those involved in processing human food.

FDA ignored Congressional intent and instead proposed an extremely burdensome, complex framework to prevent and control hazards that may not be prevalent in feed manufacturing.  In addition to being impractical, the unnecessary requirements proposed by FDA divert limited resources away from industry practices that actually have been proven to ensure the safety of animal feed.   

The organization is urging FDA to follow more closely the legal framework laid out in FSMA and provide flexibility for the management of hazards and preventative controls that are tailored to each facility's operation and commensurate with the nature of animal feed/pet food safety risk that may be present. 
- See more at: http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=38710#sthash.cnkwXeqH.dpuf

Monday, May 12, 2014

Just in


Lower Old-Crop Soybean and Corn Numbers Forecast
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 9, 2014—A new report from the Agriculture Department provides the first projections for the 2014-15 crop marketing year. But the more compelling story in today’s World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimate is in the old-crop soybean and corn stock numbers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Ending stocks for old-crop soybeans were reduced by 5 million bushels to a projected 130 million bushels. This is a projected stocks-use ratio of 3.8 percent or about a 14-day supply of soybeans available at the end of the 2013-14 marketing year.

 “If the projections are realized, we’re looking at a record-tight level of soybean ending stocks, which is cause for some concern,” said Todd Davis, a crops economist with AFBF. USDA’s ending stock projection for soybeans is slightly lower than anticipated by industry analysts.

 Tempering the likelihood of tight ending soybean stocks is the fact that a record crop is projected to go into the ground—81.5 million acres—based on USDA’s prospective plantings survey. A record production for the nation’s soybean crop, 3.635 billion bushels, is forecast, based on record yield of 45.2 bushels per acre.

 The April report lowered 2013-14 corn ending stocks to 1.146 billion bushels because of strong demand in the export and ethanol markets. The 2014 corn crop is expected to come in at a record 13.935 billion bushels, slightly higher than the prior year. Strong demand from foreign markets coupled with continued steady use for feed and ethanol production is expected to consume about 13.39 billion bushels by the end of the 2014-15 marketing year.

Despite the abundant crop projections which illustrate great production capacity, Davis sounded a note of caution regarding Mother Nature.

“Farmers are still out there facing the reality of unpredictable weather as they work to get their crops in the ground, favorable weather during the growing season and then cooperative weather again at harvest time,” he said. “There’s still a long way to go before the crops are in the bin.”

Just in


Chris Dalley shot this photo of wife Kimmel and their girls after a driving cattle late last summer. The photo is in Beef Magazines' Favorite Ranch Mom photo contest! You can vote for this photo until May 16th at  http://beefmagazine.com/people/vote-your-favorite-ranch-mom-photo#slide-5-field_images-74831 . Lets help Kimmel win this contest!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Just in


Idaho Farm Bureau Observes 75th Anniversary

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation will observe its 75th anniversary at 2 p.m. on Wednesday May 14th at Murtaugh City Hall.

Murtaugh is the birthplace of the Idaho Farm Bureau. In 1939, a small group of farmers and ranchers met in Murtaugh to discuss and strategize plans to protect their industry and gain a state and nationwide voice. At the time there were active county Farm Bureaus in Murtaugh, Filer, Tyhee, Grace and Lava Hot Springs. Leaders from these five county Farm Bureaus elected to form the Idaho Farm Bureau and become part of the American Farm Bureau.

“This year, 2014, marks the 75th anniversary of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation,” said Idaho Farm Bureau President Frank Priestley. “We’re the largest general farm organization in Idaho with active organizations in 37 counties.”

During the Great Depression farmers in Idaho and all across the nation lacked political clout. Many decisions made in Washington D.C. and elsewhere had negative repercussions on farms.  But farmers didn’t have a strong voice in American politics, despite the fact that they were responsible for a significant sector of the economy. In response Idaho farmers adopted a model being used in several other states to give themselves and their industry a voice in politics at both the state and national level.

“There were a lot of trials and tribulations back then,” said Priestley. “We were in the thick of the depression and farmers were barely hanging on. They needed a safety net so they formed a federation that addressed their political needs and later in 1947 an insurance company to help protect their farms from natural disasters.”

The Idaho Farm Bureau has more than 70,000 member families, and more than 14,000 of those families earn a majority of their living from the land. The organization is ruled from the bottom up as members representing every county in the state work together to set policy every year.

“I think one of the reasons Idaho Farm Bureau has done so well is that it’s a grassroots organization,” said Priestley.  “The direction of the organization comes from the bottom up. The Farm Bureau is the voice of our farmers and ranchers at the county level. I think our members are proud of that.”

A monument dedication will be held in Murtaugh next week along with remarks from Idaho Farm Bureau officials and local officials. A school choir will also perform. The unveiling of the stone monument will be followed by refreshments provided by the Twin Falls County Farm Bureau.

Just in from Sun Valley


Sun Valley—A spirited meeting took place in Sun Valley on the controversial Boulder-White Clouds national monument designation yesterday in Blaine County.

Blaine County supports the measure, but Custer County is in opposition.

 On Wednesday the two counties met at the Dollar Mountain Lodge in Sun Valley to discuss differing opinions.

 Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said that the meeting was a chance for the counties to get together to hear viewpoints face to face and get a different perspective.

 With recent BLM closures of roads in Custer County, they’re cautious of what a Monument designation would mean in terms of access and use in the area.

 The proposed the national monument would cover both counties, nearly 600-thousand acres in total. “Some think the area deserves a higher level of protection and in some ways the national monument designation offers more management flexibility and maybe this is the right solution,” said Schoen. 

President Barack Obama can designate a national monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906 by signing a proclamation. Another meeting is scheduled in Custer County later this month.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Just in


Riggins--Cowboys from across the Northwest gathered in Riggins Idaho last weekend to get the rodeo season started for the year.  The Riggins rodeo is always the first weekend in May and attracts thousands of fans to the small Idaho community located on the Salmon River in Idaho County, Idaho. (Ritter photo)

Just in from the Palouse

Nez Perce--Collegiate members of the Idaho Farm Bureau's Young Farmers and Ranchers spent the day touring the Hilco Technology plant in Nez Perce. Hillco specializes in developing and manufacturing after-market leveling devices for combines. 


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Just in from Washington


The Farm Bill: How it Works

WASHINGTON—The American Farm Bureau Federation has produced a new series of videos and launched a website (http://goo.gl/ujjnny) to help farmers, landowners and other stakeholders better understand the provisions of the 2014 farm bill. Featured content includes videos on key commodity program and crop insurance provisions of the farm bill.

“We have distilled down a massive and complex piece of legislation—the 2014 farm bill—into several ‘bite-size’ pieces, with the goal of helping farmers and managers understand how it will affect their farms,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist with AFBF.

“Now that safety net and risk management tools important in crop planning are in place, along with the new program for dairies, the next step is for farmers to be able to move forward with confidence in determining the best options for their individual farms,” Anderson said. “We created the farm bill video series with that goal in mind.”

The videos include a farm bill overview describing the basic provisions of the commodity title, including a description of the decisions related to program participation that will need to be made by farmers and landowners. Four other videos go in-depth on the Price Loss Coverage and Supplemental Coverage Option, the Agricultural Risk Coverage Program, the Stacked Income Protection Program for Cotton and the Dairy Margin Protection Program

 

Links to useful farm bill information from USDA, land-grant universities, and other organizations also is available on the website athttp://goo.gl/ujjnny.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Just in

AFBF: Revised pesticide rule must balance safety with risk

Washington-Increased and more frequent training, additional record-keeping requirements and changes to the family farm exemption are key parts of EPA's proposal to tighten the standards for the handling and application of pesticides.  While ensuring workers' safety is top priority, the rule may go too far for family farms and ranches, according to Farm Bureau.

"Farmers and ranchers are mindful of the fact that anyone working with hazardous chemicals must be careful and well-trained. We don't want to put our workers in jeopardy. We just want to make sure that the standards EPA adopts are reasonable and on par with the risk involved," explained Paul Schlegel, American Farm Bureau Federation crop protection specialist.

The proposed revisions to the Worker Protection Standard include:
·         Prohibiting children under 16 from handling pesticides
·         Requiring farm worker training every year (instead of every five years) on topics such as decontamination supplies and personal protective equipment
·         Establishing 25- to 100-foot no-entry buffer areas surrounding pesticide-treated fields
·         Requiring employers to keep records of application-specific information, farm-worker training and early-entry notification for two years
·         Expanding mandatory posting of no-entry signs for certain hazardous pesticides
·         Allowing "authorized representatives" of workers to examine records
·         Adopting OSHA standards for certain personal protection equipment (PPE)
·         Reducing the "grace period" for new hires, during which they do not have to be trained
 With the March 19 publication of the proposal, the current deadline for comments is June 17.  However, citing several important reasons, AFBF and others have requested the comment deadline be extended to Sept. 17, 2014.

Among the reasons for the extension request is how busy farmers and ranchers are in the spring.
"Our members-those who would be most affected by this proposed regulation-are now planting crops, tending to their orchards and prepping the soil for this year's cultivation and harvest.  It will be extremely difficult at this time of the year to ask farmers to stop what they are doing, to familiarize them with this rule, its implications and provisions and to ask them to provide us with their analysis and judgment as to its impacts," Farm Bureau wrote in requesting the extension.

In addition, the organization pointed out that farmers and ranchers are also currently scrutinizing EPA's hefty proposal to expand the agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

"This latter proposal will have an enormous impact on farmers and ranchers and will require extensive analysis.  It is unreasonable for the agency to expect farmers and ranchers to analyze both these far-reaching proposals at the same time without giving them ample time to judge the impact of these proposals on their operations," Farm Bureau said.

The current Worker Protection Standard has been in place for approximately 20 years, and the revisions have been at least 10 years in the making.  Tacking on another 90 days to the comment period is very reasonable, the group said.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Just in!


Farm Bureau again calls for second draft of food safety rules


April 29, 2014-With the understanding that significant changes will have to be made to the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act proposed rule for animal feed, Farm Bureau is again urging officials to put a second draft of the proposed rule out for public comment. 

"Given the complexity of the proposed rules, the current process of responding to comments on this draft rule with a final rule as a next step does not allow FDA to craft a sound and operable food safety framework.  An interim step, such as a second draft rule or interim final rule, is needed to work through the regulatory process with adequate stakeholder input," Farm Bureau wrote in recent comments.

Further, the second draft of all the FSMA-related proposed rules should be made available for thorough review as to how they are intended to work together, according to Farm Bureau. 
"FDA says that five rules comprise the core of its risk-based framework-produce safety, the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, third-party audit certification and preventative controls for human food and for animal feed.  Because all five rules contain overlapping provisions that together affect our members both directly and indirectly, it is critical that they be evaluated in context as a complete package," Farm Bureau said.

The organization also submitted detailed comments on the specifics of the animal feed rule. 
Farm Bureau's central concern with parts of the proposed animal feed rule (and the other proposed FSMA rules) is that they are significantly more onerous than Congress intended when it approved the underlying law establishing a risk-based food and feed safety system.  Among the feed safety issues Farm Bureau addressed are the definition of "farm," exemptions for low-risk activities associated with raw agricultural commodities (RACs) other than produce, and preventive controls requirements. 
While the organization appreciates FDA's recognition of farms as appropriately exempt from facility registration in general and in regard to this rule specifically, the farm definition is too limited to encompass other normal farm activities, including feed manufacturing on a limited scale. 

"Particularly in geographically isolated areas or locations where only a small number of farms are present, it is not unusual for a farm to add value to grains and other feedstuffs grown on its operation by mixing animal feed that can then be sold to neighboring farms," Farm Bureau said. In a handful of areas that don't have sufficient retail feed distribution, like Alaska, for example, purchasing feed from a neighboring farm might be the only way for a farmer to feed his livestock. 

Farm Bureau noted its agreement with FDA on the agency's intent to exempt facilities that store RACs other than fruits and vegetables from requirements that would be established within its proposed current good manufacturing practices regulation and its proposed preventative controls regulation. 
- See more at: http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=38710#sthash.UhiyroOO.dpuf

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Just in


‘Our Food Link’ Grants Awarded for Creative Programs

WASHINGTON – From a strong field of applicants, three state and four county Farm Bureaus were selected to each receive a $700 grant from the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee to help fund “Our Food Link” activities. Grant recipients are: Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Utah Farm Bureaus; Dickey County (North Dakota), Franklin County (Virginia), Jerome County (Idaho) and Summit County (Ohio).
Grant-winning programs demonstrate a strong connection between the food system and agriculture, while creatively engaging consumers in a way that encourages them to learn more about food and agricultural products.
“Year-round outreach through ‘Our Food Link’ is more important than ever because the average American is now at least three generations removed from the farm,” explained Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the AFBWLC.  Farm and ranch families make up less than 2 percent of the U.S. population today.
Throughout the year, Farm Bureau members help consumers of all ages and backgrounds connect with sources of clothing, food, shelter and energy in their communities. Program activities range from outreach at supermarkets or farmers’ markets to hosting interactive booths at community events, speaking with lawmakers and neighbors about food or visiting a classroom to help students understand agricultural topics.
“Our Food Link” activities may also include the collection of food and monetary donations for Ronald McDonald House Charities or other charities.
The launch of the program was spearheaded in January by the AFB Women’s Leadership Committee, although Gilbert noted, “All Farm Bureau members are invited and encouraged to consider participating in ‘Our Food Link’ activities. The flexibility of the program makes it a great fit for anyone looking for creative ways to reach the non-farming public with information about today’s agriculture,” she said.
Download the free “Our Food Link” Planning Toolkit and publicity tools at http://bit.ly/1j1jH5H.

Idaho Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

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