Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wheat tour


Idaho Mexico Wheat tour participants from Left to Right: 
Clark Hamilton (Idaho Wheat Commissioner), Clark Johnston (JC Management) Mark Trupp (Idaho Farm Bureau Vice President and Idaho Grain Producers Association State Director) Cotter Norris (Senior Trader/Risk Manager Bunge Mexico) Bryan Searle (Idaho Farm Bureau President) Chelsea Conlon (Idaho Department of AG) Zak Miller (Idaho Farm Bureau Commodity Coordinator)

Idaho Farm Bureau Hosts Mexican Wheat Merchants

Idaho Falls—The Idaho Farm Bureau a Mexican wheat merchants spent three days on a whirlwind tour of Southeast Idaho wheat farms and grain elevators this past week.

A senior trader from Mexico along with Idaho Farm Bureau staff visited local elevators and talked to producers. The Delegation was joined by trade experts from the Idaho Wheat Commission and the Department of Agriculture which helped organized the event.

“During the visit with farmers and elevators, I think the quality of our wheat was the easiest point to make,” said Zak Miller of the Idaho Farm Bureau. “We have superior quality grain whether it's in a producer’s bin or at the elevator. Not only that but all our varieties speak for themselves. Our producers did not disappoint in showing off their superior wheat.” 

Miller says that the Department of Ag and the Wheat Commission continually stressed Idaho’s identity-preserved wheat.

“Very few places in the world have producers that manage their wheat with the precision that Idaho wheat producers do and we wanted to show the Mexican millers that.  As more and more consumers seek to ‘know their food’ this bodes well for Idaho producers in the future.”

For Idaho wheat producers freight is always a challenge, but shipping has improved according to Miller.

“There was a lot of discussion about transportation because it's been a challenge of the past, but that’s the past. Optimistically, we think there are new opportunities to move wheat into Mexico and at a competitive price,” said Miller.

Miller says the biggest takeaway from the tour was greater communication between all parties involved on the tour.

“We think future deals are possible between the Mexican millers and Idaho wheat producers, so we’re going to stay in touch and keep working on an agreement,” said Miller. 


Miller adds that the Farm Bureau will continue to monitor the needs of the Mexican millers and says these visits are productive. "We’re finding ways to help develop and enhance Idaho’s agriculture products," said Miller.

Food Technology


AFBF Backs Timely Reg Review of Food Production Tools

WASHINGTON -- Coordinated federal review of advances in agricultural biotechnology will help America’s farmers and ranchers achieve gains in efficiency and productivity needed to meet the continued challenges of the 21st century, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“American agriculture must stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Duvall said. “Agency collaboration and efficient government review of new food production methods will help foster public confidence, provide our farmers and ranchers tools that enhance their productivity and respect the diversity of our nation’s crops and cropping systems.”

Duvall’s comments came in response to a bipartisan letter from 79 members of the House to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Spearheaded by Reps. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), the letter urges federal regulators to adhere to a “consistent, science-based, risk-proportionate regulatory system” for agricultural biotechnology.

Like the letter, Duvall urged the department and agency leaders to coordinate and advance timely reviews of advances in biotechnology and biology-based tools including gene editing. He said policies and strategies should embrace the review of innovation, domestically and internationally, through the president’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

“We will continue to highlight the need for a sound scientific and appropriate risk-based regulatory approach that will ensure farmers and ranchers have the tools and innovation they need to meet the challenges of the future in the most sustainable way possible,” Duvall said.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Just in



New Office opened in Emmett

Emmett--There's a new home for Farm Bureau Insurance in Gem County. Stu Barrett and Dusty Bryant cut the ribbon on the front doorstep of their new office located at 1312 S Washington in Emmett.

Just in


New Plymouth--At Memory Ranch near New Plymouth Monte & Luke Pearce started the day setting a broken leg on a new-born calf. They will remove the cowman’s split in about 10 days and expect a full recovery.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wind Generation Benefits Farmers, Rural Communities, and Environment

Op-Ed by Robert Giblin

Washington—U.S. energy production is undergoing rapid transformation, with substantial impacts to the agriculture and rural economies. Many farmers already produce renewable energy by growing corn to make ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel. Now, more farmers and ranchers are harvesting the wind blowing over their land to make electricity.

Large wind turbines increasingly dot the countryside, and, like ethanol and biodiesel production, wind energy is yet another example of how agriculture is becoming a significant provider of renewable energy.

Many of the roughly 500 manufacturing facilities and wind turbine technicians are located in rural areas.

From the late 1800s through the 1930s, farmers used wind to pump water, grind grain and, to a small extent, generate power for self-sufficiency. Although most are no longer functional, old metal windmills still stand as quaint symbols of farm life before the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 paved the way to extend electrical service to rural America.

In recent years, about $143 billion has been invested in U.S. wind energy, and the investment is growing. U.S. wind energy production has grown by seven times in the last decade, with more than 53,000 turbines in 41 states generating more than 84,000 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power nearly 25 million homes nationally. Wind energy currently contributes about 6 percent of the nation’s power grid but is expected to grow to as much as 20 percent in the near future, according to the Energy Department’s “Wind Vision” report. In some states, the percentage is much higher. In Texas – a state normally linked to petroleum production – wind accounts for 12 percent of the state’s electrical generation. Iowa leads the nation with 31 percent.

Employment related to wind turbine technology is among the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S., supporting more than 73,000 jobs. Many of the roughly 500 manufacturing facilities and wind turbine technicians are located in rural areas.

Rural communities benefit not only from the added jobs but also from payments farmers and ranchers receive to host turbines on their property.

Each turbine uses less than half an acre, so farmers can plant crops and graze livestock right to the turbine's base. Most can continue to use about 95 percent of the land around wind turbines. Some farmers have also purchased wind turbines, and others are starting to form wind power cooperatives. The payments farmers receive from wind power developers or utility companies can help offset long periods of low commodity prices and increase spending power in rural communities. Additionally, most wind power developers pay property taxes to counties, separately and above the taxes paid by local farmers.

Many communities also benefit from capital investments by companies choosing to locate facilities in areas served by wind generation. In Iowa, wind electricity helped attract billions of dollars in capital investment from Facebook, Microsoft and Google data centers, creating hundreds of jobs.

Wind energy also has no emissions and preserves water compared with other power generation methods, saving some 87 billion gallons in 2016 alone.

Some critics contend that farmers should be in the business of growing food and fiber, and not producing fuel or energy. But energy and food needs are ever-increasing, and U.S. agriculture has the capacity for both. The potential for 80,000 new jobs and $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners increases farm economic stability and benefits rural communities. Renewable energy and agriculture are a winning combination.

Monday, October 16, 2017

'17 Beet Harvest





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



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

Just in from Bloomberg



NAFTA Talks Left Reeling After Aggressive US Proposals

From Bloomberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s In Charge?

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Antiquities Act Legislation

House Committee Moves Bill Requiring Transparency in Designation of National Monuments

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key provisions of the bill would:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

'17 Beet Harvest


2017 Beet Crop nearly as sweet as ‘16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Farm Bureau hosts NAFTA talks

Idaho Export Hay heading to drought-stricken Canada

NAFTA Meeting Resume on Wednesday in Washington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Just in from Washington




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Elk Depredation


Elk Depredation Threatens Cattle Industry Viability
By John Thompson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Immigration Reform


Farmers, Ranchers Ready for Long-overdue Immigration Reform

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Elk Ranch


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

Just in from Washington


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

Legal Fee donation

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

Ada County Farm Bureau Aids Ranchers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Just in from Nampa


 The NMID Boise River diversion near Barber Park will be closed October 11 shutting off  the water supply to the District’s historic Ridenbaugh Canal. 

NMID IRRIGATION CANAL FLOWS TO END OCTOBER 11
AFTER  RECORD WATER SUPPLY YEAR

Nampa--The Treasure Valley’s largest irrigation district will shut down flows in its 500 miles of canals on October 11 marking the end of the second best water supply year in the valley in nearly 75 years, water managers with the Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District announced today.

“The Bureau of Reclamation told us that 2017 is the second highest water run off year on record in the Boise River system trailing only the 1943 water year. The good river flow gave us a full irrigation season and will also result in a good water carry-over in the reservoirs going into 2018,” said Greg Curtis, NMID water superintendent.

The closing of the NMID Boise River diversion near Barber Park also brings to a close the end of the 2017 irrigation season in which water users received a full supply.

District employees will close the headgates of the Ridenbaugh Canal on the Boise River near Barber Park in early morning of October 11 to let the system slowly bleed down. It could take up to two to three days for the canal system to empty completely in its furthest reaches, Curtis added.

The Nampa & Meridian Board of Directors made the decision to end water deliveries at a recent regular board meeting. Last year the NMID system was shut down on October 6.

The canal water cutoff means residential water users using pressurized urban irrigation systems managed by the District will need to switch to another water source such as a municipal system if they want to continue to irrigate lawns and landscaping.

Curtis said the District will launch several large construction projects as soon as the canal system has dried out before freezing temperatures arrive. Projects will include new concrete lining of 1,500 feet of the Ridenbaugh Canal plus several other lining and piping projects to be completed before the beginning of the 2018 irrigation season.

“These projects provide for a more efficient system which saves water and requires less maintenance,” Curtis noted.

The Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District is a water storage, conveyance and distribution system founded in 1904. The District supplies irrigation water to some 69,000 acres of farmland, residential and commercial lands, including pressurized irrigation for more than 16,000 individual parcels of land in Ada and Canyon counties. More information is available at the District’s website: www.nmid.org          

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Public Comment period on WOTUS comes to close



AFBF to EPA: Time to Rescind WOTUS Rule

Washington—Earlier this year the Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal that eliminates the 2015 Waters of the US rule and allows the EPA to develop a rule that doesn't create a regulatory burden for farmers.

The public comment period deadline on the WOTUS rule closed on Sept. 27. The EPA reconsidered the rule after the nations agricultural sector supported rescinding the 2015 rule. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says its time to ditch the rule once and for all.

“As today’s deadline for comments on rescinding the fatally flawed Waters of the U.S. rule is upon us," said Duvall. "Farm Bureau applauds the Environmental Protection Agency’s formal proposal to ditch the rule. We do not stand alone in our assessment that the WOTUS rule was much more about seizing land control than about protecting water, and in official comments today we joined several broad-based coalitions expressing those sentiments. It is clear that this WOTUS rule violated the law while creating legal risk and enormous uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and others who work with the land."

The President of the nation's largest Agricultural organization added that the rule lacked common sense and clarity.

“It is time for EPA to take the final step of repealing the WOTUS rule. The agency should then move forward with a new rule that provides farmers, ranchers, towns, states and small businesses with clarity and certainty they need. The new rule should rely on common-sense directives that don’t require teams of consultants and lawyers to navigate a maze of federal regulations. We will follow this process closely over the coming months to ensure that the new rule is based on law, that waters are protected and that farmland can be farmed.”

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

FDR visits Idaho Harvest



President Franklin Roosevelt visits Idaho

Boise--September 27th 1937, this was a special week in Idaho and It was FDR's first visit to Boise.. He visited Pocatello by train and then it was onto Boise by rail. A presidential visit was rare, and people were dressed in their Sunday finest. Shops and schools were close, but the harvest continued with most farmers too busy to take a day off.

The country was pulling itself out of the grip of the great depression. Unemployment had dropped to 14 percent, its 2 percent now. If you had a job back then, the average yearly wage was $1700.00 a year. You could buy a new house for 41-hundred dollars, a gallon of gas was just .10 cents and a new car was about $760.

On the historic trip, Roosevelt gave a speech in Pocatello, never leaving the train. By 11:30 am He was in Boise giving a speech from his car on 8th and Bannock Street and it was broadcast live over KIDO. The President and his motorcade took off from Boise and toured the backroads all the way to Ontario, Oregon and hundreds followed the motorcade by car. Roosevelt wanted to see the harvests. He had a passion for the working man and his timing was good because beets were going full steam, and so were spuds.

Roosevelt was on his way to Washington State for the dedication of the Grand Coole Dam. He later said that "Idaho is quite a place."

Thats the way it was, 80 years ago to the day.





Monday, September 25, 2017

AFBF Comments on Regulatory Reform


AFBF Submits Regulatory Reform Priorities

Washington—The Farm Bureau submitted regulatory reform priorities this week to the Department of Agriculture.

The American Farm Bureau Federation used comments from Farm Bureau members to submit suggestions for regulatory reform to USDA as part of the agency’s efforts to implement the president’s regulatory reform agenda. Paul Schlegel the AFBF’s Director of Environment and Energy Policy says overregulation by federal agencies is burdensome to agriculture.

“It’s hard to look at it nationally and say there’s X amount of dollars,” said Schlegel. “ But it’s significant. It runs from environment to natural resources to labor to endangered species, there’s a whole range of things. And, it is widespread and it takes place everywhere.”

Schlegel says regulatory creep has chipped away at the exemptions for normal farming practices under the Clean Water Rule.

“How an agency would determine what is normal can affect whether you’re exempt or not,” sad Schlegel. “So, if you’re changing from one crop to another, an agency might say that they don’t consider that normal. Those things have the effect of making farmers subject to regulations whereas Congress has said they shouldn’t be.”

The Department of Agriculture will continue to accept comments over the next year. Schlegel says this is a good opportunity to ease the overregulation burden on farmers and ranchers.

“Unfortunately, it’s a long list of challenges, but we’re grateful for the opportunity we have. On Capitol Hill, there’s legislation we’re pushing and the arena downtown at EPA, at USDA, Department of Interior, we’re trying to get them to focus on things and make some changes,” said Schlegel.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Idaho Wheat Export Deal


Idaho and Taiwan ink wheat deal

Boise-Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed a half billion dollar wheat deal with the Taiwan Flour Mill Association Wednesday morning at the Statehouse.

Taiwan Flour Mills Association Chairman Tony Chen and Director General Vincent Yao of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle were joined at the Statehouse ceremony with Governor Otter, Idaho Wheat Commission Vice-Chairman Bill Flory and Idaho Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould.

“The United States has long been Taiwan's most important supplier of agricultural products,” said Yao. “That makes Taiwan the seventh largest overseas market for US agricultural exports. Among the states, Idaho is one of the most important and reliable partners of Taiwan in terms of agricultural trade. Taiwan’s consumers benefit a lot from the high-quality agriculture products of Idaho.”

Taiwan prefers Idaho's soft white wheat for noodles, cookies, and crackers according to the Idaho Wheat Commission. But over the past few years Taiwan has also bought more of Idaho’s hard red wheat for bread. To date at least 5 percent of Idaho's wheat production is purchased by Taiwan.

“Export markets are critical to Idaho’s economy and our wheat growers,” Otter said. “We welcome the Taiwan Flour Mills Association back to Idaho and appreciate their loyalty as a customer. We appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat.”

US wheat producers have had a working relationship with Taiwan buyers for more than four decades according to the Wheat Commission. The Taiwan Flour Millers Association imports wheat for twenty flour mills. The United States supplies more than 80 percent of Taiwan’s total wheat imports each year.

"The consumption of wheat foods in Taiwan now surpasses rice and we appreciate that the Taiwan milling industry recognizes the quality of Idaho wheat," Otter said.

Bill Flory grows wheat in Idaho's Palouse prairie and says the deal benefits producers.

"The partnership between Taiwan's millers and US wheat producers is enduring and very successful," said Flory who also serves as the vice chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission. "The importance of maintaining a trade relationship with this valued customer can't be overstated."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Range Tour



Central Idaho Range Tour 

Challis-The Lost Rivers, Lemhi and Custer County Farm Bureaus invited the Idaho Fish and Game and other State agencies on a Range Tour. Each winter ranchers in the area lose tens of thousands of dollars in hay to elk herds. Last winter damage was extensive and with projections for another hard winter, ranchers are looking for ways to cut their losses.


This past summer some ranches have spent thousands of dollars building fencing. This fence is 10 feet high.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Net Farm Income: up


Net Farm Income Does a Dead Cat Bounce

Washington—A common phrase used often when talking about markets that recover slightly after a precipitous drop is “dead cat bounce.” A quick Google search suggests it was coined following a slight recovery after a large market drop in the Singapore and Malaysian markets. The idea is that if you throw even a dead cat on the ground, it will bounce a little.

Farm incomes in 2012 and 2013 were high relative to historical standards, but have dropped substantially since then. The recent projections of farm income released by USDA’s Economic Research Service in their 2017 Farm Sector Income Forecast suggest that we may have hit bottom in 2016 and are looking at an uptick in both net farm and net cash income in 2017 to $100.4 billion and $63.4 billion.

ERS last released farm income projections at the end of February, so it is interesting to compare and contrast this projection versus their earlier forecast. Both crop and livestock sectors are projected to have higher cash receipts than ERS projected in February. Crop cash receipts are now projected at $190 billion versus $187 billion earlier this year, an increase of 1.6 percent. The changes in crop cash receipts are spread throughout a number of crops and are all relatively minor.

The big change in expectations for farm cash receipts comes on the livestock side. Livestock cash receipts are now projected at $176 billion, compared to $168 billion in February, an increase of 4.8 percent, Figure 2. Cattle cash receipts are now projected $4 billion higher than in February, with hogs and poultry up by $2 billion and just under $2 billion, respectively. Despite projections for higher milk prices, dairy receipts are surprisingly slightly lower than February figures.

Cash expenses are also essentially unchanged from the earlier figures and still hold at $309 billion. While up $5 billion from 2016 costs, cash expenses are $30 billion below that observed in 2014. But do not forget that one of the larger categories of cash expenses are feed costs – money that comes out of one of agriculture’s pockets only to go into another.

One other interesting feature of the August numbers is on the debt side. Total farm debt is projected at a record-high at $390 billion, with $242 billion representing real estate debt and $148 billion representing non-real estate debt, Figure 3. An interesting observation on the non-real estate debt is that ERS projected this figure $7 billion lower this month than they did earlier this year - $148 billion as opposed to the earlier $154 billion figure. No details are provided to back up the change but it does suggest farmers and ranchers are continuing to keep an eye on the debt side of the ledger. The net impact of lower debt levels and higher farm income in 2017 is the debt to asset ratio in 2017 is projected at 12.68 percent, marginally higher than 2016, but well below levels experienced in the 1980’s.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Health Insurance Tax


Farm Bureau Urges Lawmakers to Stop the Health Insurance Tax for 2018

Washington-Citing a recent report that estimates the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance tax will force families purchasing coverage in the small group market to pay an additional $500 on average in premium costs next year, the American Farm Bureau Federation and 20-plus other organizations representing small businesses are urging the Senate Finance Committee to suspend the HIT for 2018.

“Absent immediate congressional action, our members, as well as seniors, Medicaid beneficiaries and individuals purchasing coverage on their own will face a $14.3 billion tax hike, driving up the cost of coverage for those struggling to afford the cost of care,” the groups—all members of the Stop the HIT Coalition—wrote to Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The groups noted that previous congressional efforts to provide HIT relief—including bipartisan action from nearly 400 Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate to suspend the HIT for 2017—represented a significant step forward for small businesses.

The House this spring approved legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The American Health Care Act of 2017 (H.R. 1628) also repealed the health insurance tax, ended penalties on employers that fail to purchase health insurance for their workers and eliminated penalties for individuals who fail to purchase health insurance.

While efforts to pass an ACA repeal and replace bill fizzled out in the Senate earlier this summer, some lawmakers in that chamber are pressing on. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has teamed up with Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in an effort to draft legislation geared toward stabilizing health insurance markets.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Onion Harvest



Mixed Onion Harvest in Idaho and Oregon underway

Wilder—After one of the most disastrous winters in history, The regions battered onion industry is back up and running.

Despite a slow start and low yields, strong market prices have growers enthusiastic.

“This is the second highest price I’ve ever seen,”said Shay Meyers of Owyhee produce. “Onions are selling for $10.00 per 50-pound sack. Last year they were going for $4 dollars. We have a long way to go but we’re cautiously optimistic this season because we think we have a manageable crop,”

Last winter Idaho and Oregon suffered through non-stop, freakish storms. By the end of January more than 6 feet of snow collapsed 60 onion storage sheds in Canyon, Washington and Malheur Counties.

The storms also wiped out a good chunk of last year’s onion bumper crop causing more than a $100-million dollars of damage to the crop and smashed buildings.

Last year at this time onions were selling for $3.50 a sack. When a third of the crop was lost, demand in February pushed the crop past the $10 mark.

This year the onion trucks started rolling two and a half weeks late. The crop suffered from a very cold spring with the last snow storm coming the 13th of May. In just four weeks the weather changed drastically and the crop then weathered a 6-week heat wave. Meyers says because of the challenges this crop won’t top last season’s bumper crop yields.

“We’re late with harvest this year because of that cold spring. It was hard to get planted in all of that mud. Right now we’re starting to lift the onions out of the dirt and the hot days are good for drying them on the warm ground,” said Jon Watson of the JC Watson Company out of Parma.

Packers are dealing with the lower yields, rebuilding sheds and budgets are tight.

Myers said Owyhee Produce lost four storage sheds. The main packing house was damaged but continued operations through the winter. Myers said Eastern Oregon was hit first so their buildings were the first to be rebuilt and they’re off to an earlier start than Idaho neighbors. He says when they start storing onions, they are ready.

“In terms of storage, all of our buildings have been rebuilt. We were fortunate in our misfortune and were able to rebuild first. We’re ready now for storage. We were effected first, our storages are complete, so today we are not affected and can move on,” said Meyers.

In Parma JC Watson Company had a partial collapse of one of their main sheds in January.

“We rebuilding and everything is updated and state of the art. Over the past 5 years we’ve building new multi-tasking storing sheds that can handle the heat and the cold and we can change the climate at different times of the year for a reason. We have the ability to turn storage climates into weather conditions that we don’t have at the time, things like turn night into day,” said Watson.

Because of all that snow Watson got off to a late start because of cleanup and construction.
“With the losses and a late spring we’re 3-4 weeks behind this fall,” said Jon Watson. But Watson is confident they’ll have enough storage for the last of the onions in October and hopes the prices will stay up.

“Market prices are up today because of the late harvest. California got done early and Washington is just getting started and we’re going to be late. Because of the late start we are probably going to see a smaller size profile and add the lateness to harvest and there’s not as many onions offered for sale right now,” said Watson.

Spanish bulb onions make up a third of the total US crop. They’re sold later in the year and need storage. Because of that, the crop needs storage sheds for the 2017 harvest.

Treasure Valley and Eastern Oregon Onion farmers grow more than 1- billion pounds of the bulb onions each year, making this the nation’s largest onion-growing region in terms of volume and one of the biggest in the world.

At least 90 percent of the onions grown in the region are yellows, while the rest are red and white varieties. Harvest usually starts in August and finished by the end of October.

There are 36 packing sheds in the valley and the industry’s annual economic impact is an estimated $1.3 billion, making onions a major economic player in the region’s economy.

Onion acreages are close to 20,000 this year but production numbers are well off last years record season.

“Compared to 2016 we’ll see a 30 percent reduction in yields. Last year we had record yields that were 15 to 20-percent over normal yield averages. And this year we’re 10-15 percent below an average year,” said Meyers.

From restaurants to big box stores, Jon Watson says this year’s crop will impact major retailers across the nation.

“We ship our product all over the country. We’re servicing outlets like Walmart and Taylor Farms. Taylor makes fresh cut onions for all of the major restaurant chains. Today we’re packing for Outback restaurants and they’re big onions but not as many as last year,” said Watson.

Producers stress that its still early in the season and the most worrisome part of the year will start when they move onions into storage. They say storage will be tight with no guarantees that prices will hold.

“The market today is between $9 and $10 dollars. We hope they’ll stay. We hope that stays throughout the storage process. We haven't harvested one onion for storage yet, they’re still out on the ground and some of the crop is still growing,” said Watson.

2017 is a year of wild contrasts for onion producers. They had one of the biggest crops ever in storage followed by 40 inches of snow. The collapses took a big chunk of the bumper crop and caused a $100 million in shed damage.

“Prices are good, but like I said before we need two years profit this fall to make up for last years losses. I know it is a lot to hope for but it’s all we got,” said Meyers.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Homegrown energy


Wind Generation Benefits Farmers, Environment

Washington--U.S. energy production is undergoing rapid transformation, with substantial impacts to the agriculture and rural economies. Many farmers already produce renewable energy by growing corn to make ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel. Now, more farmers and ranchers are harvesting the wind blowing over their land to make electricity.

Large wind turbines increasingly dot the countryside, and, like ethanol and biodiesel production, wind energy is yet another example of how agriculture is becoming a significant provider of renewable energy.
Many of the roughly 500 manufacturing facilities and wind turbine technicians are located in rural areas.

From the late 1800s through the 1930s, farmers used wind to pump water, grind grain and, to a small extent, generate power for self-sufficiency. Although most are no longer functional, old metal windmills still stand as quaint symbols of farm life before the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 paved the way to extend electrical service to rural America.

In recent years, about $143 billion has been invested in U.S. wind energy, and the investment is growing. U.S. wind energy production has grown by seven times in the last decade, with more than 53,000 turbines in 41 states generating more than 84,000 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power nearly 25 million homes nationally. Wind energy currently contributes about 6 percent of the nation’s power grid, but is expected to grow to as much as 20 percent in the near future, according to the Energy Department’s “Wind Vision” report. In some states, the percentage is much higher. In Texas – a state normally linked to petroleum production – wind accounts for 12 percent of the state’s electrical generation. Iowa leads the nation with 31 percent.

Employment related to wind turbine technology is among the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S., supporting more than 73,000 jobs. Many of the roughly 500 manufacturing facilities and wind turbine technicians are located in rural areas.

Rural communities benefit not only from the added jobs, but also from payments farmers and ranchers receive to host turbines on their property.

Each turbine uses less than half an acre, so farmers can plant crops and graze livestock right to the turbine's base. Most can continue to use about 95 percent of the land around wind turbines. Some farmers have also purchased wind turbines, and others are starting to form wind power cooperatives. The payments farmers receive from wind power developers or utility companies can help offset long periods of low commodity prices and increase spending power in rural communities. Additionally, most wind power developers pay property taxes to counties, separately and above the taxes paid by local farmers.

Many communities also benefit from capital investments by companies choosing to locate facilities in areas served by wind generation. In Iowa, wind electricity helped attract billions of dollars in capital investment from Facebook, Microsoft and Google data centers, creating hundreds of jobs.

Wind energy also has no emissions and preserves water compared with other power generation methods, saving some 87 billion gallons in 2016 alone.

Some critics contend that farmers should be in the business of growing food and fiber, and not producing fuel or energy. But energy and food needs are ever-increasing, and U.S. agriculture has the capacity for both. The potential for 80,000 new jobs and $1.2 billion in new income for farmers and rural landowners increases farm economic stability and benefits rural communities. Renewable energy and agriculture are a winning combination.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Just in from Washington


Farm Bureau, Livestock Groups Request Waiver for Log book Mandate

Washington—Concerned about livestock haulers’ readiness to comply with a problematic electronic logging device mandate, as well as how the mandate will affect the transported animals’ well-being, the American Farm Bureau Federation and seven livestock organizations are asking the Department of Transportation for a waiver and exemption from the fast-approaching Dec. 18 ELD implementation deadline.

Unless Congress or the administration acts, carriers and drivers who are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD rule must install and use ELDs by Dec. 18. While most farmers and ranchers should be exempt because they can claim covered farm vehicle status, drivers who haul livestock, live fish and insects are likely to fall under the requirements.

Drivers who have to use ELDs would be limited to current hours of service rules, which restrict a driver to only 14 “on duty” hours, with no more than 11 active driving hours. Once a driver hits those maximum hour allotments, he must stop and rest for 10 consecutive hours, which would be problematic when transporting livestock and other live animals.

In their petition, the groups pointed out livestock haulers’ strong commitment to ensuring the safety of both the animals they’re transporting and the drivers they share the road with. In addition, livestock haulers often receive specialized training beyond that required for their counterparts driving conventional commercial motor vehicles. The pork industry’s Transport Quality Assurance Program and the beef industry’s Master Cattle Transporter program provide detailed instruction on proper animal handling and transportation methods.

“As reflected in FMCSA’s data, the emphasis these programs place on animal welfare benefits driver safety as it encourages livestock haulers to slow down, be more aware of their surroundings and road conditions, and avoid rough-road situations that could result in animal injury,” the groups noted.

Another major roadblock to implementation for livestock haulers is their lack of awareness of the rule. Because the livestock hauling industry is small compared to the overall trucking industry, it isn’t well-represented before or strongly engaged by DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

As a result, livestock drivers who are aware of the program have had difficulty researching the ELD marketplace and identifying cost-effective solutions that are compatible with livestock hauling. In addition, as with the agriculture industry as a whole, livestock haulers are likely significantly older than the average American truck driver, making them less familiar with the use of ELD technology and in need of more training on ELD use.

In their petition, the groups also asked DOT to address the incompatibilities between FMCSA’s hours of service rules and the structure and realities of the U.S. livestock sector.

“For many drivers, there is concern that there are those, with no understanding of or concern for animal welfare or livestock hauling, who will arbitrarily penalize them for choosing the proper care of animals over stopping in excessive heat or cold because of an arbitrary HOS cutoff,” the groups said.

While FMCSA’s recent change to include livestock in its interpretation of the 150-air mile exemption for agricultural commodities is a positive development, it doesn’t fully address livestock haulers’ struggles.

The organizations are committed to working with industry and FMCSA to address the issues presented by the ELD mandate and hope that FMCSA will grant additional time and flexibility for haulers who have a responsibility to care for the animals they are transporting.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Brazilian tariff on imported fuels



Brazilian tariff bad for US Biofuels industry

Washington– US Agriculture organizations want the Trump administration to address a Brazilian tariff on imported biofuels.

Brazil imposed a tariff that cuts more than $750 million in US exports and American jobs. In August, Brazil instituted a two-year tariff rate quota for ethanol imports that includes a 20 percent tariff after a 600 million liters of imports.

According to a report from the Energy Information Administration, the US exported 28 million barrels of fuel ethanol in 2016 and at least 6.6 million barrels went to Brazil. So far this year exports to Brazil stand at 1.17 billion liters, according to Census Bureau trade data.

Tom Sleight of the US Grains Council President said the Brazilian tariff “will ultimately hurt the global industry and our collective ability to reap the benefits of biofuels.”

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor said the tariff is a violation of a longstanding U.S.-Brazilian agreement and “the United States should not take this lying down.”

In a statement, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the U.S. Grains Council called on the administration to “immediately engage their Brazilian counterparts on the future of our relationships with regard to biofuels.” The groups said the administration should “consider all avenues to encourage Brazil to either revoke the TRQ or substantially increase the tariff-free quota level to better reflect the current ethanol market and trade realities.”

In individual statements, leaders of the three organizations offered more pointed comments about potential outcomes if the Brazilian action is left unchecked.

“Brazil’s actions undermine the zero-ethanol tariff arrangement between our two countries that has been in place for several years,” she said. “President Trump has been a strong supporter of America’s biofuels producers, and decisive action to defend this crucial domestic industry will be a clear reminder of the administration’s continued commitment to strengthen the American economy.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, said both the U.S. and Brazil “have benefitted greatly from the free and fair trade” between the two countries, but that’s now at risk.

“Unfortunately, Brazil’s recent protectionist actions are turning back the clock to an era of isolationism and inefficient global trade,” he said. “In the end, Brazil’s new trade policy not only harms U.S. ethanol producers, but also penalizes Brazilian consumers who will be forced to pay more for their fuel.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

Idaho Hop Harvest


Idaho Hop Harvest in full swing

Wilder—Smokey skies hang over one of the biggest hop harvests in the Pacific Northwest.

At Obendorf Hop farm outside of Wilder trucks started rolling in August and they’re still running sun-up to sundown. They'll keep this pace until workers cut the last vines and strip the hop fields bare.

“All and all, it’s a good to average year,” said Brock Obendorf. “Our baby crop was below average due to the wet spring. The Hot summer has brought some mites and it’ll be interesting to see how this harvest turns out.”

Idaho hop producers will take an average year after one of the most challenging growing seasons of the decade. They faced a cold, wet spring then a dry, scorching hot summer. But through it all, hop growers are optimistic in a very tough year.

Thats because the craft brewer market has pushed hop demand to new highs and there's no end in sight.  Obendorf says brewers wants the taste and aroma that hops bring to beer and they're constantly looking for new and different brews.

“We’re now farming 2800 acres, we’re trying to keep up with demand. Our harvest is a lot longer because we planted more acres this year. But we should be done by September 25th, as long as the weather holds and we can keep the trucks rolling,” said Obendorf.

A report from Hop growers of America reported an 11 percent increase in production last year. The nation’s hop farmers grew 87.1 million pounds of hops and this years harvest could be close to that mark. The rise of American craft breweries and their heavy use of hops means each barrel uses 10-times more hops.

Because of that, Idaho hop growers now rank third in the nation and pushing Oregon for total hop acreage. This year producers strung a record 7,000 acres in hops in Idaho according to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Brock Obendorf is the current president of the Idaho Hop Commission and he says to keep up with the craft beer demand, Idaho planted 15-hundred more acres than last year, an increase of 27-percent.

“There are more breweries every year and there’s a higher hopping rate in the craft beers, this new crop of brewers have completely changed the industry especially in the past five years,” said Obendorf

Obendorf Hop Farm and Idaho producers have no trouble finding a market for quality hops.

“We sell to brokers out of Washington and from there they go all around the world, with all these breweries springing up it’s a competitive market, beer drinkers are always looking for the next great IPA," said brother and partner, Eric Obendorf

The grueling, month-long harvest is progressing at break-neck speed. Workers cut the 14-30 foot vines in the field and drop them onto waiting trucks. Once loaded, the trucks rush to a giant hop shed where the vines are lifted and stripped. The hops fall onto a conveyer belt and then sent to the giant dryers. They’re heated up to 140-degrees and then cooled to 70 degrees in a chilly warehouse.

“Once they’re baled they go to the processor or even directly to the brewer and added into the brew. Before that in our process we cool them off for 12 hours, we have a slot in the floor that we pump fresh air to cool them off faster. We have to cool them down before we bale them,” said Eric Obendorf.

The giant bales stand in the cool warehouse until they're loaded onto Washington bound trucks. Brock Obendorf says they pack different varieties and different grades of hops.

“We sell by the pound and it ranges everywhere from a $1.50 a pound to $6-bucks. Prices have been good, but this time of year they level off. And all the acres we put in to keep up with craft demand could level off the market but we won’t know until we get past harvest,” he said.

Wheat tour

Idaho Mexico Wheat tour participants from Left to Right:  Clark Hamilton (Idaho Wheat Commissioner), Clark Johnston (JC Management) ...