Tuesday, August 22, 2017

2017 Potato crop

2016 Packing season over, 2017 outlook bright

Rigby—Rigby Produce outside of Rigby reached a milestone this past week. The 2016 season just ended and the last potatoes of the season were packaged and shipped last Friday.

“We’re just finishing out the 2016 crop and we’re done as of today” said Stephanie Mickelsen, CFO of Mickelsen Farms. “Starting this week we’ll start the 2017 crop through the warehouse and packing shed and start shipping potatoes throughout the United States.”

Mickelsen says Rigby Produce will transition right into the 2017 season without a break.

“There will be no down time this year. We seem to go have gone from one season to the next. In the past we've had a week or two, but there is no downtime from when we finish the crop and start with the new,” said Mickelsen.

Last year Idaho producers planted 325,000 acres of potatoes, with good size but only fair prices. Mickelsen says the 2017 crop is different.

Since 2000, the average national price for fresh potatoes has ranged from a low of $7.34 per hundredweight for the 2003 crop to a high of $14.44 for the 2008 crop, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Following the cycle of one to two years of high prices, followed by a period of low prices, potatoes were primed for higher prices this marketing year, according to Ryan Larsen, an extension farm management specialist at Utah State University. He looked at three different forecasts earlier this year.

The USDA baseline forecast is for $6 per hundredweight. Another source gave a single moving average of $6.50 to $6.60 per hundredweight, while the third — indicating more risk — ranged from $7 to $8.

“If you’re looking for a bright spot,” he said, “potatoes have a good chance of breaking even,” said Larsen. “And if acres are down, we can add onto that.”

While that’s a far cry from the 2008 year, growers that can capitalize on market timing can capture high prices as some did in 2015 and 2016. Growers also had good weather that produced a uniform crop the past two years. Eighty-two percent of the crop graded No. 1, that's up from 73.7 percent in 2015.

“I think 2017 is going to be a bit more challenging than last year. The crop is two weeks behind schedule because of the type of spring we have had. The size is just not going to be there but it should mean a better market for growers this fall,” added Mickelsen.

The USDA reports that Idaho’s 2016-17 crop was marketing throughout the year, with top shipment months noted in September (12% of annual marketings), October (12%), April (11%), March (9%) and May (9%). The comparatively lower volume months were July (6%) and this past August (6%).

“I think we should see higher prices than in ’17 because of the challenges we’ve had with the growing season and we need that to make up for the past 3-4 years the prices we've had in the potato market the last few years,” said Mickelsen.

A five week heat wave stretching from July to mid August stressed potatoes. One farmer said he's doing everything he can to revive what he calls tired plants.

“I think that's a very fair assessment,” said Mickelsen. “We met with the chemical company yesterday and they said all the farmers around here are trying to put anything they can on the vines to try and revive them. They're tired this summer, especially lately because it’s extremely hot. We've had weeks and weeks of heat and dry temperatures.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Just in

Reuters: Negotiators Should Do No Harm to Agriculture, Says Duvall

Washington--American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall was quoted by Reuters in an article on NAFTA negotiations that began this week. During a press conference Wednesday, Duvall emphasized how important the trade agreement is to U.S. agriculture. “We do not want them to use us as a trading tool and to do harm to the agricultural sector in all three countries,” he said, referring to the negotiators.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jefferson County Fair

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

Range Tour

Ranchers, BLM Meet to Tour Morgan Creek Allotment

Article and photo by John Thompson

In 1976, there were about 30,000 head of cattle in Custer County. Today there are about half that many.

Restrictions applied by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have taken cattle off of the land in Custer County and throughout the western states. Ranchers contend the restrictions, in many cases, are arbitrary.

A group of Custer County ranchers and state and federal agency land managers recently toured the Morgan Creek Allotment west of Challis to discuss conflicts on federal land and to look at the health of the land.

Ranchers repeatedly questioned the federal officials about stubble height requirements along streams. They say the land is healthy and that is a long-term trend – a claim the BLM officials agreed with. However, stubble height requirements are limiting the number of cattle ranchers are allowed to turn out and that is threatening the future of several ranches.

In the Morgan Creek Allotment ranchers were penalized last year because stubble height measurements were at 3.5 inches, rather than the required 4 inches. Ranchers who attended the tour said overall the allotment is healthy and to restrict grazing because of half inch arbitrary measurement of grass in a creek bottom is harmful to many families and the overall economy of Custer County.

In addition, the grazing allotment is restricted because of the presence of salmon, steelhead and bull trout but the reasoning behind the restrictions is admittedly dubious.

Tom Curet, Idaho Fish and Game Salmon regional supervisor, said steelhead occasionally make it past a natural barrier in lower Morgan Creek but Chinook do not and have not been documented in the creek’s upper reaches. Curet acknowledged that Idaho bull trout populations are healthy and the fish should not be receiving special management considerations. He added that bull trout populations in other parts of the Intermountain region are in danger, which is the reasoning behind the listing. Bull trout, chinook and steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act which requires special management restrictions that frequently result in cuts to the number of cattle allowed to graze on public land.

Ranchers believe that special restrictions for fish management in the drainage are illogical and unreasonable – especially in the case of bull trout when the numbers of fish present in Morgan Creek and many other rivers, indicate a healthy population.

Curet said Idaho is “lumped” with other regions in regard to bull trout management and in those other regions populations are not robust, which makes the potential for de-listing remote. However, the recent de-listing of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear population gives hope that distinct population segments of other threatened or endangered species may be released from ESA oversight.

“There are over a million bull trout in Idaho,” Curet said. “They have never been in trouble in Idaho and never should have been listed.”

The latest Census of Agriculture, completed by USDA in 2012, shows 16,400 cattle in Custer County. Estimates show each cow returns about $900 per year to the respective ranches. Custer County is 96 percent federal land, which limits the tax base and in turn the services the County provides its residents. Economic return from cattle is one of the most important income sources in Custer County.

Ranchers and federal land managers discussed a few options for solving problems in the allotment during the tour. It was suggested that flash grazing, or high intensity, short duration grazing may be a solution along Morgan Creek. They agreed that the allotment is healthy from a land management perspective, but cows tend to congregate along streams because of feed availability and shade. Fencing along streams was also discussed as a possible solution.

Rancher and Morgan Creek permit holder Jim Martiny said stubble measurements are a poor indicator of range health. “We are managing the allotment in one small space as opposed to looking at the big picture,” he said. “In year’s past we haven’t met the stubble height standard in a couple of places along the creek and our numbers have been reduced because of that. The end result is we lose numbers because of a half of an inch of grass but in the long run the allotment isn’t gaining anything.”

Rancher Gary Chamberlain asked the federal officials on the tour to take a close look at Morgan Creek. “I want you to pay special attention to the grass right here,” he said. “Last year it was grazed down to 3.5 inches and to look at it today, we didn’t hurt a thing.”

Regarding bull trout, steelhead and Chinook salmon, Chamberlain said ranchers are being forced to submit to more regulations that don’t and likely won’t ever provide any benefits to the fish or the land.

“We are told the range looks good and to keep doing what we’re doing but then every time we turn around we have new impositions put on us like stubble height,” Chamberlain said.

Todd Kuck, BLM Challis Field Manager, said the agency is focused on outcome-based grazing and sometimes the terms and conditions written in the permits “don’t necessarily get at the objectives we want out on the ground.” He said the BLM is looking into new projects and strategies that will help meet the objectives they have set.

“We want to come up with objectives for allotments and management strategies that allow more flexibility to permitees on how they manage cattle,” Kuck said. “We do realize there are issues with restrictions in the permits and we are looking at that. It will take some work to come up with how we write objectives and how we monitor to show how we are meeting or measuring what we want the allotment to look like.”

Kuck added that permit holders in the Morgan Creek drainage are doing a “really good job of managing on the ground.” “We are going in the right direction as far as management here,” he said.

Just in

Ag leaders agree to show united front in latest farm bill

By Ron Sterk

SAN DIEGO – Leaders of the nation’s two largest farm organizations shared the stage at the International Sweetener Symposium and said they would help rally agriculture during the upcoming farm bill debate.

“This is not a time to be divided; this is a time to be united,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. At the opening session of the American Sugar Alliance’s annual meeting Duvall said, “It’s our time. We have the right people in the right places and we need to write a food security bill to benefit all Americans.”

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, agreed and explained that it’s important for agriculture to come together and work closely with members of the nutrition and conservation communities, who will be essential to the farm bill’s passage.

“A farm bill should address needs, not a budget,” Johnson said, adding that the 2018 farm bill is particularly important given today’s tough economic times in agriculture. “The economic situation facing farmers is pretty tough right now and has been for the past several years. This financial pain is felt very broadly across farms of all sizes.” He noted that agricultural loan repayment delinquency rates, bankruptcies and restructured debt were up.

Johnson said he expected the farm bill would be approved “on time” and without cuts, adding that it needed support from farmers and ranchers, conservation groups and nutrition groups.

“Congress needs to show voters in rural America they can get something done,” Johnson said, calling the farm bill “a heavy lift” but easier than some other legislation.

It was the first time in many years that the president of the Farm Bureau, the nation’s largest farm organization, spoke at the sugar meeting, and Duvall said his appearance underscores the need for all of agriculture to come together ahead of the 2018 farm bill.

“We’re telling Congress we need a food security bill for this country,” Duvall said. “It’s not a safety net (for farmers).”

Both farm group leaders said the atmosphere in Washington under the Trump administration was conducive to strong farm policies, and that the current farm economy of mostly low commodity prices and declining farm income would make it easier to get the farm bill passed than in 2013 and 2014, when the farm economy was more robust. They also agreed that grassroots politics was key, urging producers to actively contact their elected representatives during the farm bill process.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rate change

Theres change brewing on the Idaho range

Boise-The Idaho Department of Lands wants to modify the grazing rate charged to ranchers on Idaho Endowment Lands and rancher Cody Chandler wants ranchers to get involved and comment on the IDL website before September 1st.

From Capitol Hill

New Legislation Would Delay Log-book Device Requirements for Truck Drivers

Washington—A new bill on Capitol Hill will bring a much-needed delay to the problematic electronic logging device mandate for certain drivers, which is set to go into effect in December, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Farm Bureau-backed ELD Extension Act of 2017 (H.R. 3282) delays the mandate for two years to allow drivers and truck companies to address a lot of unresolved issues.

“This delay is necessary to adequately account for costs, allay technology concerns, minimize impacts to livestock and other live animals under our members’ care and allow for the proper training to ensure uniform compliance and enforcement,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall wrote in a letter to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas).

Unless Congress 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.

The requirements imposed by the mandate would be harmful to both small business owners, who could be forced out of the marketplace, and livestock, which could suffer if they were no longer hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers and stockmen, Duvall wrote.

“Time spent on a truck can be stressful for cattle and other live animals. Unnecessary stops or multiple loads and unloads add additional stress resulting in potential livestock weight loss and increased animal sickness and death,” he said.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Eclipse 2017

This road north of Weiser is dead center in the eclipse path of the totality, its also on the Chandler ranch

Eclipse County Prepares for Worst

Weiser—As the eclipse nears, Washington County officials are bracing for the crush of people expected to gather under the path of eclipse totality. 

Next Monday the population of the county could triple and  beside that, their biggest fear is wildfire.

“The main thing we’re concerned with is the fire danger and our ability to fight fires. We worry about law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services to meet the needs of people. This is a hard thing to prepare for because we don't know whats going to happen,” said Washington County Commissioner Kirk Chandler.

Chandler says his office could see as many as a 100,000 visitors, another study predicted just 10-thousand. Nonetheless, Chandler says just 10-15-thousand visitors could grid lock tiny Washington County. One study shows that Weiser is the closest eclipse location in the path of totality for the 38-million people living in nearby metro areas Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“It’s frustrating because we don't have any idea how many people, we hear of new groups and more people everyday and we have to plan for that, we hope this week when people start showing up that we can get an idea and plan accordingly,” said Chandler.

After record snowfall and precipitation this spring, tall grass in Washington County is at record levels and in some places is over a foot high. Ranchers met with Commissioners last week. Some wanted to close roads to keep people from touching off wildfires on the range.

“We’ve considered that but most of those road access public lands and it would put the County at a huge liability to close off public lands. The Sheriff is meeting with the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service. The Forest Service is not closing any of their roads, we know people are getting maps and they intend to go there,” said Chandler.

Chandler says in Washington County landowners can post no trespassing signs on their land and protect it, but for the most part roads will be open as usual. Rancher, next door neighbor and son, Cody Chandler says his land is at ground zero. It is touted as the most optimal spot in the Pacific Northwest to view the eclipse.

“My biggest concern is the fact that ground on both sides of the road have fuel loads more than a foot high. This is where we graze our cattle, especially in the fall. A lot of this feed will get us through the middle of winter and there is a lot of fuel for fire. All it takes is a single car pulling off the road with a hot muffler touching off a range fire. I think if it happens, it would be just about unstoppable,” said Cody Chandler.

Chandler urges motorists to stay on the roadside and do not drive off gravel shoulder. If you see tall grass, don’t drive into it. 

“Keep hot exhaust pipes and anything that can ignite wildfire away from the tall grass. We will have visitors that have never been around brown grass. A cigarette butt or anything like that could ignite this grass in an instant and it’s our worst fear,” added Chandler.

Commissioner Chandler says his ranch is bordered by two county roads and says he's been burned out in the past because of careless motorists. With all the threats at home and in the county they’re taking no chances next week.

“We’re setting up an Incident Command Center that starts this Friday. We’ll set up HAM radios in case the cell towers get over loaded and we’ll be in touch with the Idaho Command Center. We declared a disaster in our county due to the eclipse way back on the 19th of June just as a precaution,” said Kirk Chandler.

Washington County suffered through a four-month disaster when buildings started collapsing under the weight of deep snow starting last January. The County had 228 buildings collapse and it took out $2.4 million dollars in County assessed value. Their command center operated all winter from the snow and into June with spring flooding.

“We have an idea of what to do, but a fire is much more complex for the Country.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

USDA Supply and Demand Estimates report

USDA says Wheat, Corn yields up this year

Washington-Farmers hoping for a good crop report last Thursday had their hopes dashed by the USDA’s predictions of strong wheat and corn yields. So much that the report dropped the futures market on the Chicago Board of Trade.

“This is a pretty big shock to the market,” said John Newton, the director for market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Market watchers expected the new forecasts in USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report to push yield estimates down for both crops, Newton said, but it was the opposite.

The new USDA report – the forecast for this year’s corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton – is predicting the average corn yield at 169.5 bushels per acre. That slightly below the August prediction, but up sharply from market expectations of about 166 bushels, Newton said.

“We’re right on the trend line in terms of yield, but that puts us above the trade expectations,” USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson said today about the new corn numbers.

The report pegged total corn production at 14.2 billion bushels, a 102 million bushel decrease from the July projection. If achieved, that would represent a 7 percent drop from last year, but still the third highest yield and production on record for the US.

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service interviewed more than 21,000 farmers in the largest farming states that make up 75 percent of US. production.

“It’s just completely bearish news across the board for corn and soybeans at a time when farm income and commodity prices are already so low,” Newton said. The reports sent commodity prices in a tailspin. September corn finished the day 15 cents lower; September soybeans dropped 32 cents.

Thursday’s reports also projected a one percent decrease in wheat production from July estimates. Yet yields could make up for the cut back in wheat production. This month’s WASDE is based on pre-Aug. 1 data, so the situation could still change, according to a Farm Bureau analysis released today.

“With the 2017/18 crop still in the ground, a significant amount of uncertainty remains,” the AFBF report stressed. “Given that many fields are far from maturity, these yields and production numbers are subject to revision in the coming months.”

USDA’s Johansson agreed, saying: “We still have a month of weather to push the soybean numbers around a little bit.”

For now, though, the situation is grim.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty left, but I certainly think that a lot of folks were hoping to see yields come down a little bit and provide an opportunity to lock in some more favorable prices for some of that new crop,” Newton said. “That’s certainly not the case after Thursday’s report.”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farm Bureau Scholarship Winner

Boise--Beth Carter of the Ada County Farm Bureau presents Ross Blattner of Kuna a Farm Bureau state scholarship. Blattner will attend the University of Idaho this fall with hopes of earning an Ag Systems Management degree.


Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle takes the floor at the AFBF House of Delegates
AFBF Policy Analysis Versus Policy Development

Washington--The American Farm Bureau Federation has a long and proud history of carefully evaluating the economics of policy proposals in order to understand potential pitfalls and other unintended consequences. At the same time AFBF has, since its inception, had a well-defined process for determining the organization’s policy positions. Each year the organization’s delegate body of farmer and rancher members deliberates and responds to challenges facing agriculture.

Following the Delegates work, the AFBF Board of Directors interprets and gives direction to AFBF staff to proceed with advocacy actions to communicate the message from farmers and ranchers to leaders in all branches of government.

With Congress moving past the opening days of debate on the next farm bill, AFBF economists will once again take up the challenge of analyzing the effects of various policy alternatives. Two recent analysis pieces look at two specific commodities – cotton and dairy – that are facing challenges in terms of the federal safety nets (Are MPP Dairy Improvements on the Way? and Cotton Coming Back in Title I?). These commodities have been subjected to considerable discussion by Farm Bureau members, as well as by AFBF’s Board of Directors.

The Congressional Budget Office’s June 2017 Baseline for Farm Programs reveals that both of these commodities, under the current Farm Bill, have very limited safety net support: 2017 to 2027 budget outlays for dairy are estimated at $839 million and for cotton these outlays are estimated at $874 million. Based on these CBO projections, program payments for cotton and dairy represent 1.5 percent and 0.18 percent of the of the farm value of these commodities, respectively.

This means that in order to provide additional support in the near term, as is being proposed in the Senate Ag appropriations measure, resources will need to found and likely to also require finding 60 votes when the measure comes to the Senate floor. These political realities point to why the analysis has been done and critical to helping Farm Bureau, from the grassroots members to leadership, evaluate and determine our position and advocating from that decision.

To state it another way, the purpose of economic analysis is to help inform the membership and the leadership of Farm Bureau on the potential effects of these proposals on farmers and ranchers. It is not a Farm Bureau policy position, which is the purview of the membership and the Board. Analysis can help inform that process, but will never – should never – replace it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cricket infestation

Crickets invade Southwest Idaho

Weiser-Washington County rancher Cody Chandler says he's not only running cattle on his ranch but millions of Mormon crickets on the range north of Mann Creek reservoir.

“When they graze on the range they strip the wheat grass of everything, including the seeds,” said Chandler. “In the aftermath the wheat grass is gone and next year we won’t be able to get enough feed off it, so we might have to feed hay and that’ll cost us a lot of cash.”

Mormon crickets have hit parts of Southwest Idaho hard, especially in Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties. But there are also scattered damage reports coming in from Gem and Elmore County according to the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

Washington County Ranchers face the creepy Mormon cricket every 4-5 years. Chandler says the destruction is very fire-like in that they move in paths where they’ll take out a 10 yard swath and the rest of the field is fine. They lay eggs as they go and have turned some roadways into stinky, bug slicks. A few years ago crickets caused car wrecks on Highway 95 where they crossed the road by the millions.

Mann Creek Camp ground north of Weiser is gearing up for the eclipse and will have a full house during that weekend. The prime facility is not only in the path of totality for the eclipse but also for Mormon crickets.

“There’s a lot of crickets but it’s manageable,” said Forest Service Host Dean Kessler. “It was worse a few days ago, they’re back near the creek in the Northwest corner. We’re going to try and bait them away from the campsites, but the numbers are declining.”

Cody Chandler says that the infestation is bad. “This years infestation is worse than 2013. They’re bigger this year, about 3 inches long and where they’re bunched up, there’s an odor.”

The bugs are named after Mormon pioneers who moved west in the late 1840’s and suffered an infestation during their first crop. The pioneers saw firsthand the devastating effect on pastures, gardens and grain fields.

Localized cricket infestations happen every year in Idaho, different cycles in different places according to Lloyd Knight of the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

The USDA says that spreading bait is the best way of killing crickets. Since the crickets are cannibals, they’ll kill other crickets and eat them when they run short of food.

Chandler said that he first noticed the crickets two weeks ago when he was riding his range north of Weiser. He said the crickets showed up over night but says they’re thinning out right now and should be gone in a week or two, but the bugs have destroyed prime range land.

“The crickets are the biggest I’ve seen, they’re all over three inches and jet black. I can’t get over the smell. They baited them up over the hill by air. I rode over there and it smelled like dead cattle,” said Chandler.

A USDA website says the crickets do the most damage to alfalfa and wheat fields and says farmers can curb crop damage by baiting insects. The State Department of Agriculture is passing out carbaryl bait to farms 5 acres or larger for free.

“The bait works as long as you can get the crickets to stop and eat. When they're moving they’ll crawl right over it. But if they stop and eat, you got ‘em,” said Kessler.

Chandler says the crickets are finally in decline.

“I’ve counted up to 50 per square yard when they first came out, but they’re dying off now and you’ll only see about five per square yard,” said Chandler.

The crickets have moved away from the Chandler ranch house, but they’re still on the move three miles north. For now the rancher and his family are breathing sighs of relief.

“I hate those stinky bugs,” said Chandler.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sage Grouse ruling

Sage Grouse ruling will re-open the Western Range

Washington--Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants the Bureau of Land Management to look at different ways to open up more sage-grouse habitat to grazing, oil and gas development.

Show Season

Rupert--It's fair season across Idaho and its a busy time for farm families. The Nalder family out of Rupert is in the thick of showing livestock. Three members of the Nalder family showed prized pigs at the Minidoka County this past week and they all brought home ribbons!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hay market prices on the rise

Drought Deepens, Ripples Hay Market

Washington—The Northern Plains continues to have very dry conditions and over the last month has progressively worsened on the drought monitor.

Last week, it was estimated that as much as 30 percent of the High Plains region, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas are experiencing moderate to severe drought.  Montana has also been greatly impacted with as much as 50 percent of the state is experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, and almost 25 percent in the extreme drought category.

Not only are these drought conditions impacting corn, soybean, and spring wheat conditions, this intensity is also reflected in the pasture and range conditions released weekly by USDA NASS. Over 50 percent of the pasture and range is in critical conditions, rating poor and very poor, in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Inadequate pastures have led to cattle moving south much earlier and at lighter weights than are typically seen. Cattle on Feed for June showed large increases in the year over year figures in categories under 800 pounds. Cattle placed under 600 pounds were up 30 percent compared to 2016. In addition, USDA had announced multiple initiatives allowing for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands and there have been reports of roadside baling.

One of the signposts of inadequate pasture conditions is supplemental feeding, and although some cattle have moved, other livestock may still require additional feed supplies. Other hay prices have risen dramatically in the Dakotas and surrounding states. Average other hay prices from January through June are 15 percent and 16 percent higher than last year in Montana and North Dakota, respectively. South Dakota, although year-to-date is below year ago levels, has seen other hay prices increase 22 percent in the month of June. Minnesota other hay prices are up 25 percent in June.

Hay prices will likely increase in surrounding states as the drought continues and deepens. Similar to droughts seen in the Midwest and the Southern Plains, this drought will likely have a lasting effect. Because of the short growing season in the Northern Plains and lower cuttings per acre, the implications are likely to affect stocks going into the next winter and over a much larger footprint than the drought area as supplies are drawn from other areas of the country. The High Plains corridor is typically the highest producing other hay states in the country. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana all fall within the top 10 all hay producing states in a typical year.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tax Reform

Tax Reform Crucial for America’s Farmers, Ranchers

Washington—Congressional leaders and administration officials have released a statement on tax reform that addresses many issues of importance to America’s farm and ranch families.

The following statement about that action may be attributed to Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation:

“America’s farmers and ranchers are encouraged to see that key congressional leaders and the administration understand how important tax reform is to all Americans. Fixing our tax system now is crucial to creating economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other family-owned businesses. This is especially important as farmers continue to face down tough economic challenges.”

“This move sets the stage for Congress to put tax reform on its agenda. Not only will reform strengthen our economy, but by addressing key issues like overall tax rates, capital gains taxes and enhanced expensing, it will be good for farms and other businesses.”

“Our farmers and ranchers face numerous challenges and it is important to recognize this creates special circumstances in regard to taxes. We look forward to working with Congress to move tax reform forward and do it in a way that benefits farm and ranch families and all Americans.”

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 21 Solar Eclipse

Idahoans gear up for the Solar Eclipse 

Mackay-The long awaited solar eclipse is now just three weeks away.

No one knows how many people will come to Idaho to see the state's only total solar eclipse of the 21st century.

Some Idaho ranchers are getting involved in the eclipse. The Zollinger Ranch near Mackay leased out a 100-acre field along the Big Lost River 10 miles outside of town.

“We're letting Gem State Entertainment do the project,” said Jolene Zollinger. “It’s going to be a music festival with camping, vendors and it should be a real good time.”

The Zollingers don’t have an idea how many people will show up for the event.“We can accommodate 3,000 easily but can handle up to 5,000 people,” said Zollinger.

Gem State Entertainment will have porta-potties to accommodate the crowd. Campers will bring their own supplies while food vendors will help feed them. The festival will be on a harvested grass field with no campfires, fireworks or weapons and Zollinger stresses that there’ll be security at the event. She says it should be a good experience.

People can buy tickets online at 24-tix.com under the event, Mackay Eclipse Camp-out. Tickets are $80.00 for a single ticket or $250 for a weekend family admission.

“We are centerline, just above the MacKay Dam. If you look at the map we are dead center of totality and theres not a better place on earth to see the eclipse. We’re putting all the family to work, we will have some medical staff and hopefully it’ll go smooth. There’ll be cellphone service, and enough amenities to make it a comfortable music festival,” said Zollinger.

The path of totality — where a total solar eclipse will be visible for more than 2 minutes — passes north of Boise while going through towns like Weiser, Smiths Ferry, Stanley, Mackay, Rexburg and the Driggs Victor area. The center line runs between Idaho 75 and Redfish Lake Lodge, just south of Stanley and through Mackay.

The only major metro area within the path is Idaho Falls, which will get about 1 minute, 45 seconds of totality.

The total eclipse will be the first on the mainland United States since 1979 — when Idaho was one of five states in the path of totality — and the first to cross America from coast to coast since 1918. It’s the only total eclipse that will touch Idaho this century.

Idaho communities have scurried to get ready. While some communities are excited, others worry about the number of people that will crowd the path of totality.

Two Idaho counties have sought disaster declarations three weeks before the August 21st full solar eclipse.

Payette and Washington counties are in the path of eclipse and County Commissioners declared a disaster declaration and local emergency, three weeks before the event.

County commissioners in those counties said the declaration will span from now until September 5th. The declaration covers public safety risks, financial damage and excessive costs of labor, cleanups and property damage. They hope the declaration will help the county respond to emergencies leading up to the eclipse and the aftermath weeks after the fact.

Payette County Emergency Manager Andy Creech said that the disaster declaration was a first step they had to take. “It’s something we had to do in anticipation of a disaster. This is a precautionary measure that activates response plans in preparation of the eclipse.”

The eclipse is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to the county as they head to the Weiser Payette areas, and officials are ready to handle congested traffic, car wrecks and increased medical calls along with potential range fires because of the crowds.

Across the state, Idaho Falls is also in the path of the eclipse. City officials there ordered hundreds of extra porta-potties that they’ll set up around South Tourist Park, Noise Park and Sandy Downs, all of which have been converted into temporary campgrounds during the long eclipse weekend.

“We heard that every porta-potty in the State of Idaho has been reserved for the eclipse week,” Kerry Harmon of the city of Idaho Falls.

“We ordered the porte-potties last spring, We’ve been planning for this a long time and we hope it goes off okay.”

In Portland Gov. Kate Brown activated the Oregon National Guard to help deal with tourists during the eclipse.

The National Guard will stage six aircraft and about 150 troops and airmen the weekend before the event and a few days after, if needed.

Oregon is the first state in the Union that will see the eclipse and they expect up to 1 million visitors. There too, state and local governments have planned for months to prepare for the crush of people that could jam highways and stress local resources.

All along the path of totality city and county leaders urge residents to fill their cars up with gasoline, make sure prescriptions are up to date and buy enough groceries for two weeks.

Community leaders from Portland to Weiser and  Rexburg say they’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

2017 Harvest

Storage tightens At Idaho Grain Elevators

Burley—John Evans of Evans grain in Burley spent most of 2017 getting ready for this month.
He's bought and stored last years grain and is now buying this years crop.

Combines started harvesting wheat this week in the Magic Valley but Evans has enough room for just 650-thousand bushels of soft white wheat.

Just down the road in Rupert Brian Darrington set a yield record of 145 bushels per acre and he says this year is going to be just as big on his farm.

“I’m on track for another record,” said Darrington.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Idaho set an all time record last year producing 101,855,000 bushels averaging a record 91.3 bushels per acre.

After Idaho’s record wheat harvest last year farmers and grain elevators struggled to find storage space for the record harvest. Piles of last years bumper crop are still sitting besides elevators across the state.

As the first wheat is harvested in the Magic Valley farmers worry about storing wheat that they hope to sell when the market is up.

“Farmers are in a bad spot in terms of storage of grain,” said John Evans of Evans grain in Burley. It’s mainly because we had a lot of white wheat carry-over.

Evans says the Ogden market where most of Eastern Idaho grains are trucked are already awash with wheat.

“Freight rates are so high we can’t ship it down the river anymore for export, That used to be our release but these days no one can afford to get the grain to Portland, competitive rates aren’t there,” said Evans.

To deal with the large crop, farmers, grain elevators, and co-ops are looking at temporary or emergency storage space. John Evans thinks the season is looking up and thats good. But the bad thing is that storage is going to be tight and storage could be the key in making money.

“If you can figure out a way to store your grain, find a place to store it,” said Evans. “Even if you got to pay 3-cents per bushel to store the stuff, you got to do it. This year is different kind of year than last year. Prices are going to be higher. We’re having some weather issues in the Midwest, the Dakotas, Canada and Australia. If you got some white wheat we’re pushing the markets at $4 1/4 to $4 1/2 I think producers better take advantage of it.”

Evans knows once the harvest is in he only has so much space, some producers will look hard at temporary storage.

“I don’t have that much storage, I have 225,000 out in Paul. We have 340,000 out in Heyburn so we have about 650 thousand bushels we can store but we already have carry-over and the grain is coming in fast,” said Evans.

Evans hopes some of the soft winter will get out on the rails and head east. He said last year producers had no where to go because the market was so over whelmed with record yields. And the brewing companies will play a factor this year.

“The Maltsters like Anheuser Busch over contracted, they sent out a letter in June saying they were not going to take their commitment until September of this year,” said Evans. “So that means that farmers that were hoping to empty their bins by harvest don’t have a place to go.”

Evans adds that producers need to be on their toes this harvest season.

“So producers need to shop around for your storage, if they see a decent price take advantage of it. We saw what happened with white wheat last year. Same thing might happen this year with some decent yields.There’s still so much carry over from last year, I’m telling producers don't get greedy, if you see a good price, sell,” said Evans.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Harvest, 2017

Beet harvest is still two months away, but Brian Darrington is optimistic that they'll have another good year.

Magic Valley Farmer waits for Magic Harvest

Rupert—Farmer Brian Darrington is throwing all caution to the wind.

The young farmer had the best season of his life in 2016, setting yield records for beets and wheat.

“I think we can out-do last year. In the Mini-Cassia area we had a very good spring,” he said. “I looked things over and I’m on track for another record.”

Darrington partners with his brother Jeff. “We farm 1600 acres. We have 580 acres of beets, 500 of wheat, 500 of beans and the rest is hay,” said Darrington.

Magic Valley farmers are in their third week of a heatwave. The high temps work as a double-edge sword, helping the wheat, hurting the beets. So he’s keeping a 24-hour watch on the crops and thus far things are working out.

“The heat can shut us down, but a beet is tolerant it has a big root to draw water for survival. But if it gets dry it just lays down and kind of burns up and doesn't do anything. But we had early rains this summer and I got behind on water and it took us weeks to get caught up. But we’re saturated again and things look great,” said Darrington.

Last year was a record setting year for beets. Idaho farmers harvested a record 7.2 million tons of sugar beets on 2,000 fewer acres and turned out 2.34 billion pounds of sugar. According to the University of Idaho, sugarbeet revenues were up 2-percent over 2015's crop year. As good as things look in terms of yields, inputs worry Darrington.

“We’re consuming fertilizer at an astonishing rate. We fully fertilized this spring and we’ve had to call the airplane to spray additional fertilizer because our levels were coming in low. The spring rains brought our beets out early, right after we planted them. So we have stellar stand counts, lots of plants per acre and I'm on track for another record. But the downside is that we're spending a lot of money doing it.” said Darrington.

In any given year a lot of things have to go right to make money. Darrington says production and yields will be there, he worries about the market and hopes prices will match the quality of his crop. Last year the Darringtons planted fewer acres and still set a record, but said sometimes yields work against farmers.

“We’re a co-op and they will dictate the number of acres we can plant. I don't know of any catastrophic losses, I do know of a few crop failures where my neighbors had to replant beets and they’re a little behind, but I would say we are on track for a full harvest,” said Darrington.

Amalgamated Sugar Company is owned by the Snake River Sugar Company. The company says their 750 producers will grow sugarbeets on about 182,000 acres in Idaho this year. ‘I’m very optimistic that we will have a good crop, and hopefully we will have a market that'll reward us for our labors,” said Darrington.

Darrington add that this is a rare year because he’s excited about both beets and wheat. Last year they had a once in a life-time bumper crop.

“I averaged a 145 bushels per acre, I hope to hit that that again. We get asked all the time how we do it. It's simple we spare no expense and we grow good crops. We'll see how many bushels we get this year and it just depends. My next best year was 125 bushels per acre. Our wheat is similar to last year, big stands, good water despite the two acres that we replanted, I’m set for another bumper crop.” said Darrington.

But USDA projections show that the '17 wheat crop across the board should fall short of last year. Late Crops have suffered from above-average heat and high temperatures has stunted growth in some areas. Darrington says the Mini-Cassia area started harvesting this week and looks good. According to the USDA Idaho might see the fewest planted acres of wheat in decades.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Canadian Trade Minister visits Idaho

Bryan Searle photo

If NAFTA isn’t broken, be careful how you fix it, says Canadian Ag Minister MacAulay

Boise--Canadian Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay met with Lt. Governor Brad Little,  and Idaho Farm Bureau President Bryan Searle and other Idaho Ag and trade leaders.

After a week of discussions last week with Northwest lawmakers it was hard for the Minister MacAulay to get away from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"The minister and his staff were very appreciative Idaho and the United States for wanting to work together for mutual benefit," said Idaho Farm Bureau President Searle who attended Fridays meeting at the Idaho Department of Ag.

Searle asked in the meeting if there was anything Canada wanted to addressed or changed in NAFTA. MacAulay said that they were not the ones asking to renegotiate the treaty. But said that they were willing to see what happens and address issues as they arise. For instance he said, NAFTA was negotiated before the internet. He said since there are many technological things that need a closer look, but by and large NAFTA has worked.

“The message I hear on both sides of the border is ‘be sure how you fix something that’s not really broken," MacAulay told reporters after the meeting at the Department of Ag on Friday.

MacAulay spent time in Oregon and Idaho promoting the bilateral trade relationship between Canada and the United States. He also delivered a keynote address at the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Summit in Portland and another meeting in Sun Valley.

The meetings were timely with NAFTA renegotiations on the horizon, MacAulay says it’s important to understand the roles Canada, Mexico and the United States play in the agreement’s success.
The Ag minister used an agri-food example to illustrate how all three countries work together to enhance the success of the trade agreement.

“Using a hamburger as an example, let’s say the meat comes from Calgary, the grain for the bun comes from the United States and during the winter the tomato comes from Mexico,” said MacAulay. “Any time someone eats a hamburger, they’re eating something from all three countries.”

The Office of the United States Trade Representative released its negotiation objectives on July 17. The USTR outlined a number of ag-related objectives, including expanding trade markets and eliminating some tariffs.

"Canadians and Americans really do benefit from agricultural trade. Just last year, our countries exchanged more than $47 billion in agriculture and agri-food products. This relationship provides greater access to well-priced, high-quality foods and supports millions of middle-class jobs and strong rural communities on both sides of our border. My job is to work hard with all levels of government in the U.S. to ensure that the agriculture sector in North America continues to grow, and the best way to do that is by continuing to share a strong and open dialogue," said MacAulay.

MacAulay is confident US Ag Secretary Perdue’s previous experiences can help the negotiations progress smoothly.

“There’s absolutely no question Sonny Perdue knows the value of trade and appreciates the value of trade,” he said. “He's been a Governor for two terms and he’s a politician that’s fully aware of the value of NAFTA.”

Idaho Ag Director  Lt. Governor Little know the value of Canadian trade to Idaho. Trade north of the Idaho border means nearly a half billion dollars in trade year year and more than 32-thousand jobs.

Irrigation outlook

Despite Magic Valley Heat wave, Irrigation water supply at record levels

Twin Falls—With July in the record books, the 2017 season is unlike any the past five decades. That's according to Brian Olmstead general manager of the Twin Falls Canal Company.

“We’re in great shape,” said Olmstead. “The reservoirs are still well over 90-percent full and we’re not close to anybody running short on the whole river. It was on natural flow until mid-jury and since then even we’ve still been on good natural flows so far. Twin Falls Canal company, we’re still on almost entirely natural flows and probably will be for another week or two.”

Olmstead says that even with the heat and near record plantings, there’s still going to be a surplus.
“I think through the whole Twin Falls canal system we are going to carry over so much that we’ll probably have to release some water to get down to the reservoir winter levels. So nobody will run short, everyone will carry over water and we’re set up for a big water year next year,” added Olmstead.

Olmstead says that more than a quarter of a million acre feet of water was dedicated to recharge the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer.

“We did well over 300,000 feet that I know of on the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer. Thats the good thing that we have this much water.  When we have lot of reservoir water in the fall we can recharge with the storage because it has to go. It can’t go over Milner Dam so I think we might recharge another 100,000 this fall and that would unprecedented and thats an exciting prospect,” according to Olmstead.

Three hundred-thousand acre feet could stand as a recharge record, but Olmstead thats just what the Water Resource Board did.

“Above that there was quite a lot of private recharge and then there was all the recharge from out in the lava rock. I bet overall between natural and managed we probably did a million acre feet and thats the most ever,” he said.

The Magic Valley has weathered through a three weeks of scorching hot temperatures, but that hasn’t affected water supply in the least.

“The demand peaked the first week of July because thats when everyone was finishing grain. Even with all the grain shut down and the heat we’re still using less water. For instance on the Twin Falls system right now we’re using 3100 cubic feet per second. We were running 3500 cfs three weeks ago and thats the case for the rest of the Snake River Plain,” said Olmstead.

Triple digit heat shouldn’t affect irrigation on the Twin Falls system.

“The late season crops are sitting good because farmers have all covered their rows, corn, beans, beets and now they don't take as much water. And frankly its muggy with clouds every afternoon and that holds the moisture. Even though its hot the evaporation hasn’t been that high, unlike there in Boise,” said Olmstead.

Olmstead says this summer is a landmark year for Twin Falls Canal Company, but they can’t close the book on the 2017 season yet.
“We’re going to be talking about getting some more recharge done this fall and then looking forward to good water supply next year. Right now, I don’t now how we can miss,” said Olmstead.

Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 Wheat Harvest

Wheat Harvests underway

Emmett--Treasure Valley farmers are getting the wheat in. At Walton farms in Gem County, Tracy Walton is thrashing soft white Ovation wheat.

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates average yields of 86 bushels per acre in Idaho, down 8.5 percent from 94 bushels per acre in 2016.

Idaho Wheat Commission executive director Blaine Jacobson confirmed a number of farmers are harvesting in North Ada and Gem County so far in Idaho, but more farmers will start harvesting this weekend.

“We expect good yields from our winter wheat,” Jacobson said. “We don't know if it will be as good as last year, we don't know much at this point.”

U.S. farmers planted less wheat and corn while soybean acreage is up a record 89.5 million acres. Thats according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service from their annual summer report.

The report is based on surveys of more than 70,000 farmers from the first two weeks of June and matches the survey from March.

Wheat acreage for all varieties is estimated at 45.7 million, down 9 percent from 2016, representing “the lowest all-wheat planted area since records began in 1919,” according to the report.

"Prices are slowing going up," said grower Tracy Walton and says they might break even this year.

"It's just nice to see. Producers that had dark northern spring are having some good rallies. When we’re getting $7 dollars on that, growers are feeling better. The soft white? we still have a ways to go," said Richard Durrant of Meridian.

Last March, farmers said they intended to sow 46.1 million acres with wheat. The bulk of the planted area will go to winter wheat, at 32.8 million acres according to NASS.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

IFBF New Website

Idaho Farm Bureau Launches New Website                     

POCATELLO - The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation introduced a new website this week directed at better serving its 76,000 member families, and informing the general public about agriculture, natural resources and the organization’s grassroots policy.

Joel Benson, Idaho Farm Bureau’s manager of member benefits and digital marketing, said the new site will be more nimble and responsive to the needs of the membership.

“The new website at www.idahofb.org, utilizes responsive design, which means it’s clear and legible for all devices on any size screen,” Benson said. “As technology changes and improves over time it will adjust for the future needs of the organization.”

The new site includes a digital newsroom and will be updated daily (five days per week) to provide the most recent news and information including video and print news, photographs, blog posts and social media links.

Regarding advocacy, the site includes a new page that will help members stay informed on critical issues and provide several tools to encourage interaction with local, state and federal agencies and politicians.

In the member services category, the new website is a clearinghouse for the numerous programs provided to Farm Bureau members as well as an organization event calendar and pre-registration page for important meetings, conferences and seminars.

The new site was designed by Manwaring Web, an Idaho Falls firm and will be maintained and updated by Idaho Farm Bureau staff.

Wine and bees

Bitner Winery hosts Bee researchers

Sunnyslope—At the Bitner Winery south of Caldwell, Ron Bitner not only knows wine, he's one of the foremost authorities on bees in the Northwest.

Bitner hunches over an orange flowering plant at the edge of his vineyard with two exchange students from Ireland. They’re watching a burrowing bee at the base of the plant.

“The bee burrows a tiny little hole down six inches and they will gather pollen, lay the egg on it and then will come up and cover it. There were hundreds of them here early in the spring. I never used to have them until I planted these flowers six years ago,” 

And thats the point, Bitner has planted flower beds along the border of his chardonnay vineyard and his house. The flower beds are ten feed wide stretch a hundred yards. Bitner says they’re designed for bee diversity and build native bee populations.

The US Department of Agriculture released a report saying that parasites and disease have threatened bee populations and that enhanced genetic diversity is needed in bee colonies. Bitner’s  flowerbeds will help that and also helping are two exchange students staying at the vineyard from Ireland. Both are interested in bee research and learning as much as they can from Bitner.

Ruth Farnan from Dublin is studying out of the University of Idaho Agriculture Extension office in Parma.

“I think a lot more research needs to be done with mites and maybe how they transfer to native populations as well. Although people are worried about the commercial pollinators they’re forgetting about the pollinators that pollinate other plants. Bees are really important to plants and crops and they might be affected as well, and we’re studying them,” said Farnan.

The USDA estimates that one-third of all food and beverages in the United States come directly from bee pollination. Canyon County is one of the most important counties in the nation because a lot of the nation’s seed crops come from this county.

Farnan says something as simple as bee gardens could help bring populations back to sustainable levels.

“You can start a pollinator garden, theres a lot of information on the net, about what plants are good for your area and you can find good ones for wild pollinators and not just the honey bee they are important too. theres a lot of products you can buy and look into that and buy organic sustainable food that supports pollinators. We need a bit more pollinator programs. It’s important for all of us to look out after the bees,” said Farnan.

Student Kim White of Dublin says she's impressed with the U of I Extension program, she’s now considering writing her thesis on bees.

“I just want a good experience, I want to bring some of things I learn here back to Ireland back to my studies. We do a lot of lab based research we don't get that much opportunity in Ireland So that is what I want to do and bring it back to Ireland and possibly find a title for my thesis,” said White.

“Working with Ron Bitner has been interesting because I’m learning about the leaf cutter bee and alfalfa. We don't have the leaf cutter bee in Ireland and it’s been very unique. I definitely have an interest in apiology, I think thats something I might look into doing for a living,” said Farnan.

A decline in bee colonies puts pressure on agriculture in Canyon County. The alfalfa that powers the state dairy industry is pollinated by bees. Bitner vineyards and the young researchers are working to find answers to curb bee mortality.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

2018 Farm Bill

Groups outline priorities for Farm Bill 2018

Washington-The American Farm Bureau, Independent Community Bankers, AFBF, ASA were among those testifying at Senate farm bill hearing yesterday afternoon on Capitol Hill.

The groups are outlining their goals and priorities for the next farm bill. On July 25, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing focused on credit and crop insurance, "Commodities, Credit, and Crop Insurance: Perspectives on Risk Management Tools and Trends for the 2018 Farm Bill."

The Bankers of America are asking for a multi-year farm bill that allows multi-year business decision-making.

The American Farm Bureau Federation is calling on Congress to maintain a unified farm bill that keeps nutrition and farm programs in the same bill. Crop insurance industry leaders stressed the importance of crop insurance in their testimony.

A Montana sugar beet grower testified in favor of maintaining a strong no-cost U.S. sugar policy in the bill. Soybean farmer Kevin Scott testified on the importance of risk management programs.

American Farm Bureau outlines priorities
The American Farm Bureau went to the Committee hearing with a specific agenda.
"Congress must counter a steep, four-year drop in commodity prices that has left farmers and ranchers in worse shape than any time since the farm depression of the 1980s," Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney told members of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“2017 and 2018 will be a critical period for farmers and ranchers,” Haney said. “Farmers and ranchers are tightening their belts and paying very close attention to their individual financial situations. Simply put, they are in greater need of strong, secure safety net programs and risk management tools than has been the case for several years.”

To offset the effects of deteriorating farm and ranch conditions, Haney said, Congress should:

Protect current farm bill spending.
Maintain a unified farm bill that includes nutrition programs and farm programs together.
Ensure any changes to current farm legislation be an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or the Agricultural Act of 1949.
Prioritize top funding concerns -- risk management tools, which include both federal crop insurance and Title I commodity programs.
Ensure programs are compliant with World Trade Organization agreements.
Maintain robust funding for conservation programs that encourage environmentally sensitive farming practices as well as the periodic withdrawal of land from active use.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Just in

Sydney Butler named Miss Rodeo Idaho

Nampa--Sydney Butler, 21 of Boise was named Miss Rodeo Idaho at the Conclusion of the Snake River Stampede in Nampa over the weekend.

After five long days of scorching heat, dust and stiff competition Butler was crowned, she says Miss Rodeo Idaho was the culmination of hard work and dreams.

"I really didn’t know how it was going during the competition," said Butler. " I did know I did my best all week and I was proud of for that but I wasn’t sure If I had it in the bag. But they started listing off categories winners and one by one and slowly I kept checking them off in my mind and when they called my name, it was just surreal. I had so many friends and family there supporting and was just a burst of family and friends. There were hugs all around, and then they had to get all of these pictures and it was a whirlwind."

Butler says her favorite part of the competition involved dust, the arena and riding skills and adds it was also the hardest.

"My favorite event was horsemanship, its the event I worked the hardest for and I actually ended up winning that category so that was exciting for me. We rode horses we had never seen before, so here we were in the horsemanship contest on horses that we’ve never ridden.  We had to do a pattern on one horse and then got on another horse and then we did some rail work, but it was really fun. It was  competitive and all the girls did well but I was lucky to pull it off," she said.

The recent college graduate won things she'll value all her life, a trophy saddle and a chance to further her education.

"First off, Simplot generously donated a saddle. The former miss Rodeo Idaho sponsored a bridle, headstall. Overall I won $5500 in scholarships sponsored by a few individuals and the Snake River Stampede and the Miss Rodeo Board. I walked away with some jewelry from Dales jewelry. So lots of pretty things, lots of useful things and the scholarships, its all so amazing and I'm thankful," said Butler.

From here on Sydney says she'll take a week off and then hit the road with a new perspective.

"As of now Im still a lady in waiting to the Miss Rodeo Idaho. I will go down and support her at the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Vegas in December before taking over the crown myself in January. From there I'll be going to rodeos, school visits and media interviews. I'll have talking appearances all over the state and  the nation, traveling with the other state Queens. It will all culminate with the Miss Rodeo America pageant down in Las Vegas in December of 2018," said Butler.

The Miss Rodeo Idaho in waiting, says the honor hasn't fully set in.

"It's incredible and I can’t wait to represent the State of Idaho, the Snake River Stampede and Miss Rodeo Idaho. Next year I'm wondering if I need a job to hold me over in the mean time, but I'll be plenty busy," she said.

2017 Potato crop

2016 Packing season over, 2017 outlook bright Rigby—Rigby Produce outside of Rigby reached a milestone this past week. The 2016 season ...