News and Commentary
Voice of Idaho Agriculture
The Idaho Farm Bureau is a voluntary grassroots organization dedicated to
strengthening agriculture and protecting the rights, values, and property of our member families and their neighbors.
It’s been a great first year - both a pleasure and a privilege to serve as president of the Idaho Farm Bureau. I’ve met a lot of new people and learned a lot about agriculture, policy making and the management of natural resources across this country.
As an organization we’ve made progress toward our goals but we still have room for improvement. At this time I want to issue another challenge to our membership. At the risk of starting to sound like a broken record, we all need to be more active both in the policy development process and in working together to support our policies once they are adopted.
During our last state board meeting, one of our board members, Senator Mark Harris from Bear Lake County, made a comment that resonated. He said “normal people” matter when it comes to testifying in front of legislative committees. What he meant was legislators are bombarded with messages from dozens, maybe hundreds of special interest groups during every session. To him, it’s refreshing when a farmer, rancher, carpenter, plumber or really anyone from the private sector takes the time to travel to Boise, gather the courage to step up to the microphone and explain the benefits or drawbacks they see in a particular piece of legislation.
It is a great honor to be elected President of the Idaho Farm Bureau. My name is Bryan Searle. I’ve been a Farm Bureau member for 30 years. I grow potatoes, alfalfa, grain and canola seed in Bingham County. My wife’s name is Mary and we have five grown children.
I have served on the Idaho Farm Bureau Board of Directors for the past 24 years. Prior to that I attended Ricks College and Eastern Idaho Technical College. I have passion for agriculture and my time on the State Board has taught me a lot about leadership. Through the years I’ve learned that you can’t just stay home and complain and hope things will get better. You have to be involved and my involvement with Farm Bureau has both taught me a lot and allowed my voice to be heard. Now, it’s time to put that training to use and train others who are moving up in the organization.
A fringe environmental group recently displayed its total lack of class, morals, ethics and intelligence by attempting to make political gain from the tragic death of Adams County rancher Jack Yantis.
The succession of events that led to Yantis’ death on November 1, will have a profound effect on the lives of hundreds of people for years to come. Yantis’ wife Donna suffered a heart attack after learning her husband was dead. For the two motorists injured after a collision on State Highway 95 with a 2,000 pound range bull owned by Yantis, family members who witnessed the shooting, the two Adams County deputies who shot Yantis multiple times and many Adams County residents, it was a tragedy that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
In spite of that, the next day, the Western Watersheds Project’s Idaho Director Ken Cole published an editorial blaming the incident on the open range law and calling on the State of Idaho to abolish the law. This attempt to make political gain from a tragic accident is despicable, sickening and crass.
A recent column published in Beef Magazine by noted author, autism activist and animal science professor Temple Grandin, shows significant misunderstanding on livestock interaction with wolves.
Grandin is a well-known and respected consultant to the livestock industry who has done solid work on livestock handling and reducing livestock stress. However, her reporting on a recent meeting of the Society for Range Management (SRM) included a section titled “Four steps to coexist with predators,” that leaves us befuddled.
Step 1 recommending removal and disposal of all dead animal carcasses seems sensible. Step 4 recommends more human presence around herds. Both of those recommendations we can get behind.
The U.S. Forest Service circulated a strongly-worded press release recently stating the cost of firefighting has eclipsed half of the agency’s budget.
The solution recommended by USFS is to throw more money at the problem, which is not a long term fix in our view.
Every federal agency would like more money. What seems to have gotten lost in the Washington D.C. shuffle is the fact that our government is currently running a $17 trillion deficit. As a percentage of our gross domestic product (GDP), the U.S. debt load is about equal to the debt, which is better than Japan or Italy, but lags behind all other developed nations. The report from the Forest Service shows arrogance and a lack of understanding of common sense budgeting. Cutting budgets is what Washington needs to learn how to do rather than throwing money at problems that don’t lead to solutions.
Franklin County, Idaho is on the frontline in a battle with foreign invaders and leaders there are suggesting strong measures to keep the pests and the myriad problems they present – out.
Due to concerns that quagga mussels could be transported from infected Utah reservoirs, several irrigation reservoirs in Franklin County, popular with fishermen as well as water sport enthusiasts, will be closed to boats in mid to late July when funding for a state funded boat inspection program is expected to run out. The owners of the irrigation impoundments simply cannot afford to inspect boats on their own.
Quagga mussels, believed to have been transplanted to the Great Lakes in the late 1980’s in ballast water of foreign ships, have now spread and infected lakes and reservoirs in 28 states. Utah and Nevada are among the latest to make the list. If Idaho fails to protect its water, we can expect to see declining fisheries and clogged water transmission infrastructure that will hinder the ability to deliver irrigation water.
Before throwing caution to the wind and jumping on the “let’s create a new national park bandwagon,” a more thorough investigation of the proposal is needed.
The recent proposal to send a state memorandum to Congress that would change the name of Craters of the Moon National Monument to National Park, was supported by the Butte County Commissioners and State Rep. Merrill Beyeler R-Leadore. There is local support for the change and we believe that is important.
However, the proposal failed after concerns about it were raised by several voices including the Idaho Farm Bureau. We would like to stress that we aren’t here to claim responsibility for killing the idea and we think it should be given time for thorough vetting. So let’s ask the hard questions first and get the answers out in front of all of the stakeholders. If it still seems like a good idea after that then let’s move forward with it.