Welcome to Idaho Farm Bureau Federation The Voice of Idaho Agriculture

News and Commentary

Voice of Idaho Agriculture

Mission Statement

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.

"Normal" People Matter

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.

Searle Takes Reins as 14th IFB President

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.

WWP Uses Rancher’s Death to Make Political Hay

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.

SRM Conference Yields Surprising Advice for Ranchers

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. 

Forest Service Budget Wrecked by Firefighting Costs

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.

Quagga Mussels vs. Franklin County

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.

Craters of the Moon – What’s In a Name?

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.

Eminent Domain Legislation Shows Foresight

A bill that would limit the use of eminent domain currently before the Idaho Legislature is an important piece of legislation that is being attacked by misinformation.

Sponsored by Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, the legislation would eliminate the use of eminent domain, or in other words the taking of private property, for the use of recreational pathways. If acceptable uses of eminent domain are not explicitly spelled out by law, it can become a disastrous intrusion on the rights of private property owners.

Eminent domain was established by the federal government to serve the public’s needs. Freeways, electric and other infrastructure transmission lines, schools and fire stations are examples of public needs. Bicycle paths clearly don’t fit in the same category.

113th Congress Dubbed “Least Productive” Ever

The 113th elected Congress in this nation’s history recently came to a merciful end. Historians have labeled it the least productive in history in terms of bills passed with 203 pieces of legislation becoming law. The 113th beat out the 112th Congress in this category by a slim margin.

Whether Congress should be judged based on number of bills passed is open to interpretation. Sometimes it’s better when certain bills don’t get passed. But during the last two sessions of Congress, gridlock has prevailed. The opportunity for statesmanship to trump party politics has never been greater. Going forward we have a Republican congress that is expected to pass important legislation that will move the country forward. The test will be whether the 114th Congress will pass bills that President Obama will sign. Will they choose to find compromises, or stand in front of TV cameras and bloviate about the President’s veto power? We hope they choose the former.

With regard to the 113th Congress, there were three areas of bipartisan cooperation under Democratic leadership in the Senate: A five-year farm bill was passed, reforms were made in the beleaguered Veteran Affairs and, of course, the spending bill to fund the government through next September was agreed upon. But tons of business will spill over into the 114th Congress.

GMO Labeling Measures Fail in Oregon, Colorado

Ballot measures requiring labeling of food made with genetically modified ingredients recently failed in Colorado and Oregon. California and Washington voters rejected similar measures in recent years and now nearly half of all states have considered labeling requirements.

Only one state, Vermont, has passed a law requiring GMO labeling. It’s facing a legal challenge there and is not slated to take effect until 2016.

In Oregon, one of the nation’s most liberal states, the measure lost by a narrow margin. Many pundits thought a labeling bill had a good chance of passing there. In Colorado the measure was defeated by a two to one margin. Millions of dollars have been spent both advocating for GMO labeling and defending the status quo. So what is the takeaway message from this effort to implement state labeling laws?

New Website Provides Credible Biotech Information

A website recently launched by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows consumers the benefits of genetic technology in crops. Located at www.fb.org/biotech, the new site provides valuable information on the benefits of biotechnology to our economy, environment and much more.

Biotechnology has proven to be an important tool for better sustainability and food security. It helps farmers grow more food while improving the environment. For example, biotechnology reduces the use of costly inputs and improves weed management, allowing farmers to reduce tillage for better soil, water and air quality. Today, roughly 90 percent of corn, cotton and soybeans grown in the U.S. have been improved through biotechnology, and farmers are choosing biotech traits when growing other crops such as alfalfa, sugarbeets and canola.

Despite rapid adoption by farmers and a strong scientific consensus that biotechnology does not pose health and environmental risks, regulatory burdens are slowing research and innovation of new biotech traits and are starting to reduce U.S. farmers’ international competitive advantage. In addition, activist groups routinely threaten the availability of new traits by blocking science-based regulatory decisions, filing lawsuits and advocating for labeling mandates.

Vote YES on HJR2

One reason people around the country are angry with the federal government is that unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in federal agencies are increasingly making-up and enforcing rules which destroy our legitimate rights. These agencies are usurping powers they were never given nor intended to have under the Constitution. 

Unfortunately this can, and sometimes does happen here in Idaho with our state agencies as well. If we are not vigilant, rules can slip through the process that are not consistent with the intent of the law.

Gubernatorial Candidate Lacks Rural Perspective

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation does not endorse candidates for statewide offices. However, statements posted on Idaho Gubernatorial Candidate A.J. Balukoff’s website are reasons for rural voters to be concerned.

We believe Idaho voters should be aware of and informed about the candidate’s position on wolves, monument designations and several others. The following statement is one example:

What do you think about the state wolf-control panel that Gov. Otter and the Legislature created this year?

“I think that was more about election-year politics than an attempt to create informed public policy.....

Whose Land is it?

Americans, and especially Idahoans, love and cherish public lands. We take it for granted that they will always be there for us to enjoy. Unfortunately, we all are incrementally being shut out of “our” public lands by the federal “managers.”

Immigration Reform – Putting Out a Call for Statesmanship

In an attempt to rally for the cause of reforming our nation’s broken immigration policy, farmers, ranchers and lobbyists from various business groups went to Washington D.C. on July 9 to encourage Congress to find a decisive way forward.

EPA’s Proposed ‘Waters’ Rule is Unworkable

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently reviewed EPA’s March 25 release of the ‘waters of the U.S.’ proposed rule. The results of the review are dismaying.

Monument Proposal Lacks Details and Local Support

The Idaho Farm Bureau opposes the creation of a Boulder-White Cloud National Monument by presidential proclamation.

Idaho – The Sage-Grouse State

Forget potatoes, forget gems, while our state legislators are in Boise this spring they may want to consider an additional piece of legislation declaring Idaho “The Sage-Grouse State.”
It has a ring to it.

Fed Bashing – Because They Earned It

Fed bashing is a popular endeavor here in Idaho that a lot of outsiders don’t seem to understand. Following, in an attempt to shed some light, is a discussion on taking private property, managing federal property and wildlife management.

BLM Priorities Askew

In its selection process of a route for a massive power transmission line across southern Idaho, the Bureau of Land Management listed eight criteria used in the decision making process.

Memo to Feds: Thanks for a Nice Healthy Pack of Wolves And Knowing What’s Best for Idaho

Wolf recovery in the Northern Rocky Mountains is one of the greatest success stories in the history of the Endangered Species Act – that is unless you live here. In a period of time spanning less than 20 years, our federal government led by then Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt and President Bill Clinton, transplanted, recovered, and recently pulled nearly a million dollars in funding for wolf management activities.

Would the Sky Really Fall?

The recent government shutdown has demonstrated an astonishing lack of understanding of basic economic principles by the media and the general public. The old adage is apparently still true, if you repeat a lie enough times most people will believe it.

GMO Labeling: Good Policy or Blind Hysteria?

According to one of the nation’s leading natural food retailers, consumers have a right to know what’s in their food and labeling of genetically altered food is good public policy.

Forest Service Plans More Grazing Cuts

Citing the potential for recreational conflicts with sheep, the Ketchum Ranger District is making plans to cut more grazing on the Sawtooth National Forest.

Transmission Project Threatens Farms, Ranches

An unknown number of unfortunate Idaho farm and ranch families are about to learn the meaning of the phrase “Step back and let the big dogs eat.”

Wolf Population Data Deserves Scrutiny

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual wolf population report released in mid-April, shows “at least” 321 confirmed packs and 1,674 individuals in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Farm Bill Past Due

The 2008 Farm Bill was recently extended until September 2013. In spite of urging Congress to act on this important legislation last year, they kicked the can down the road, which is becoming an all too regular occurrence in our nation’s capital.

Initiative Process in need of Reform

Idaho Farm Bureau’s position on new legislation currently under consideration by the Idaho Legislature that would strengthen the voter initiative process is being misunderstood and misrepresented by the media.

Custer County Challenges Federal Land Managers

It’s federally-managed land, not federal land. That’s the point Custer County leaders are trying to make. But so far it has fallen on deaf ears.

Farm Bureau Delegates Set Policy for 2013

Delegates to the 73rd Annual Convention of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation set the organization’s course for 2013 and beyond this week as farmers and ranchers from across the state representing 37 county Farm Bureaus met in Boise.

Proposition 37 Shot Down in California

A ballot proposition requiring labeling of genetically modified food, assumed by many as a slam-dunk, was given a thumbs down by California voters recently, leaving backers of the dubious idea scratching their heads.

Challenged to Follow Up

In 2001 a group of Idaho journalists descended on rural communities with a cooperative agreement, a bank account provided by the Pew Charitable Trust and an endorsement from the Andrus Center for Public Policy.

What About the Farm Bill?

The U.S. Congress recently broke for its annual August recess without completing work on a new five-year farm bill. Although the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee completed work on the Bill in early July, the House of Representatives remains stuck in a partisan rut.

Expect Higher Food Prices this Fall

Over 1,300 counties in 26 states across the southern tier of the nation are now pegged as drought disaster areas with 75 percent of the U.S. corn and soybean crops affected.

Farm Bill Priorities Changing

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand from New York recently wrote a column about the Farm Bill currently under consideration and the nutrition programs that make up about 80 percent of the spending in the bill.

Can Food Production Keep Up With Population Growth?

An article by Reuters News Service recently posed the question; “Can we feed 9 billion people?”

Setting the Record Straight

Pink Slime. It’s another over-hyped, inaccurate catch phrase designed to scare consumers about the safety of our food supply. One of the biggest challenges agriculture faces today is fighting back against what sometimes seems like a constant barrage of misinformation about our food supply and what goes into producing it.

Legislation Disregards Private Property Rights

Legislation that infringes on or compromises the rights of private property owners is viewed by our organization as government overstepping its authority.

New Labor Regulations Threaten Agriculture

A farm or ranch is one of the best possible places for young people to learn how to work and to learn the life lessons that build good citizens.

Looking Ahead to 2012

Although many sectors of our economy continue to struggle, agriculture has bucked the trend and is looking forward to expanding opportunities both domestic and abroad.

Wolf Advocates Wrong Again

Another shot to the credibility of pro-wolf groups is proving out this winter as hunters and trappers across Idaho and Montana are coming up short in reaching targeted harvest levels.

Antiquities Act Wrong Tool for Creating Wilderness

A report recently released by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar identifies central Idaho’s Boulder White Clouds region as deserving protection as a national conservation area, wilderness or “other conservation designation.”

Agriculture Labor Issues Troubling

A Treasure Valley orchard owner who recently placed a help-wanted ad seeking workers to pick fruit for $12 to $15 per hour learned how difficult it can be – even during a period of relatively high unemployment – to hire farmworkers.

Feds Drop Feral Horse Castration Plans

Plans to gather, castrate and release several hundred free-roaming stallions on Wyoming rangeland were ditched recently in the face of opposition from environmental groups who contend that birth control is a threat to the long-term survival of the herds.

Reasonable Immigration Reform Essential for Agriculture

Farmers and ranchers face a shortage of workers who are willing and able to work. Reforming the immigration system must assure that American agriculture has a legal, stable supply of workers, both in the short- and the long-term. This includes attracting a sufficient number of competent, willing and able employees; allowing the recruitment and hiring of non-resident agricultural workers when the need is demonstrated; and allowing an opportunity for some current non-resident agricultural workers to apply for legal resident status.

Inaction on Trade Agreements Hurting Economy, Trading Status

Agriculture exports are essential to the prosperity of the overall U.S. economy, and especially to rural communities. Unfortunately, our ability to trade openly in the world marketplace is in jeopardy. There are more than 600 bilateral and regional trade agreements in place or under negotiation worldwide. Sadly, the U.S. has a share in fewer than 25 of these trade deals.

Legislators Strengthen Right to Farm Law

Our hats are off to Idaho’s citizen legislators and the work accomplished during the 2011 session. They should be commended for passing several bills that will benefit Idaho residents without raising taxes during a difficult economic time period.

Eminent Domain Legislation Shows Foresight

Two bills currently under consideration by the Idaho Legislature place new restrictions on the use of eminent domain and protect private property from condemnation for unjustified purposes.

Establish Minimum Length for Sheep Tail Docking

The Idaho Farm Bureau supports the ethical treatment of farm animals. In carrying out this policy statement we find it important to bring sheep tail docking length to the attention of sheep breeders, buyers of sheep for show purposes, and judges of various county fairs and 4-H competitions.

Lawsuit Asks Taco Bell – Where’s the Beef?

The fast food chain Taco Bell recently launched a national advertising campaign in retaliation to a lawsuit alleging the company’s taco filling isn’t beef. In large letters, the advertisements state: “Thank you for suing us. Here’s the truth about our seasoned beef.”

Salazar Initiates Land Grab; Usurps Congress

Reminiscent of the Clinton Administration’s War on the West, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently signed a secretarial order authorizing the Bureau of Land Management to place severe restrictions on public land use in 11 western states and Alaska.

Power Rate Increase Unjustified

A proposed rate increase that would jump power bills in Eastern Idaho by an average of 13.7 percent is ill-timed and unwarranted.

Farm Bureau Delegates Amend Wolf Policy

BOISE – Delegates to the 71st Annual Idaho Farm Bureau Convention amended the organization’s policy on wolves this week supporting a predator classification.

Bull Trout Designation of Serious Concern to Water Users

In early October the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized its critical habitat designation for bull trout. The area of designation includes nearly every reservoir, river and stream in Southwest Idaho, including a significant chunk of territory where bull trout don’t even exist.

Candidate’s Comments Cause for Concern

During a recent meeting with an Idaho sportsman’s group, gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred made some surprising comments. As a matter of policy, the Idaho Farm Bureau doesn’t endorse political candidates. However, we thought it pertinent to pass along the following information and as always, we encourage all Idahoans to get out and vote on Tuesday November 2.

From Keith Allred: Statement on Bighorn and Domestic Sheep

Governor’s Wolf Ultimatum Prudent

Clearly frustrated with a court decision re-listing wolves as an endangered species, Idaho Governor Butch Otter recently delivered an ultimatum that the State of Idaho will bequeath wolf management duties on October 7 if a reasonable agreement is not negotiated.

Invasive Species Present Grave Concern

Anyone who tows a boat into Idaho is required to stop and have it inspected for invasive plants or small mussels clinging to the hull or outdrive. Normally it’s a five-minute or less stop that may be inconvenient for some people. But for Idaho agriculture it’s imperative to keep our state clean of these clingy critters and plants

Environmental Groups Collect $20 Million in Hush Money

Two environmental groups recently bullied a Texas energy company into donating $20 million to their cause to “save” desert sagebrush habitat by agreeing not to pursue legal action against a proposed natural gas pipeline. The pipeline is planned to cross southwest Wyoming, northern Nevada and southern Oregon.

Farm Bill Discussion Underway on Capitol Hill

Chances are good the 2012 Farm Bill will be negotiated and written during a difficult economic period. As history indicates, that means cuts to some farm programs are likely. As Congress begins the debate over crafting new farm legislation the American Farm Bureau Federation has outlined five key principles that should be followed as the new legislation is written.

Report Exposes Humane Society Charade

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a powerful political organization with a vegetarian agenda, doled out $280 million on salaries, lobbying, advertising and fundraising during a recent three-year period. Yet less than one-fifth of one percent of the organization’s total budget during the three-year period was used for programs that benefit unwanted pets.

Illegal Immigration Is Against the Law

Pop Quiz: What’s worse, getting a handle on the illegal immigration that costs our government upwards of $20 billion per year, or doing nothing about the problem because someone might get offended?

Legislators Emphasize States Rights

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

False Statements Lead to Revocation of Grazing Permit

Jon Marvel was recently caught lying to obtain federal grazing permits and got a dose of his own medicine. The shady undertakings of the Hailey architect and his Western Watersheds Project came to the forefront in mid-March when Marvel and crony Gordon Younger of Seattle admitted they lied to obtain grazing permits from the Bureau of Land Management.

Punishing Employers Won’t Correct Immigration Woes

Legislation currently under consideration at the Idaho Statehouse would punish employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. On the surface this legislation appears to address a serious problem. We recognize the many societal concerns that illegal immigration presents and we share the frustration that has brought this legislation to the forefront.

State of the State: It Could Be A Lot Worse

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter presented the annual State of the State speech this week and was roundly attacked by Democrats, newspaper editors and other pundits for lack of foresight, changing his political stripes and being opportunistic and overzealous for suggesting cutbacks to state agencies and schools.

Animal Rights Groups Attempt to Block Mustang Management

Rangelands in several states are overcrowded with feral horses and the Bureau of Land Management is taking appropriate steps to move the animals to pastures and holding facilities in the Midwest

Ohio Voters Endorse Livestock Board

Ohio voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot measure this week creating a livestock care standards board. This victory for livestock interests slams the door on efforts of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) to regulate agricultural practices through voter initiative and may be a wise strategy for other states to follow.

Environmental Group Misleads Members; Donations Pour In

Washington D.C. environmental group Defenders of Wildlife sent out an email to its membership in late October claiming a wolf hunt in Montana had wiped all the adults in a pack and that the surviving pups “will likely die without the rest of their wolf family.”

Farm Aid Swings and Misses

A group of musicians including Dave Matthews, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp got together in St. Louis, Missouri recently and held a benefit concert to raise money for small farmers.

Father of the Green Revolution Passes

Dr. Norman Borlaug was one of the greatest innovators of our time. His work in plant breeding and hybridization is credited with saving a billion people worldwide from starvation. He died on September 12 at the age of 95.

Comments, Hunt Evoke Controversy for Idaho

The September 1 opening of the first wolf season in over 50 years, coupled with an off-the-cuff statement from a gubernatorial candidate, resulted in Idaho taking a beating in the national media not felt in several years.

County Farm Bureaus Making a Difference

A tip of the hat goes out to leaders in Madison and Bonneville County Farm Bureaus. With farmers facing large property tax increases, leaders from these two county Farm Bureaus rolled up their sleeves and went to work. In the end they both worked with county commissioners and others to find compromises that will benefit all of the rural landowners in these two counties.

Defining “Sustainable Agriculture” Poses Challenges

Defining what sustainable agriculture means poses a significant challenge. But in spite of widely differing views, a group of conventional farmers, organic farmers, agribusiness officials and environmentalists recently opened a dialogue in an attempt to create a new sustainable standard.

'Cap and Trade' Faces Rocky Road in Senate

Washington - While the House of Representatives passed the Climate Control bill by 7 votes, the legislation could find tougher opposition in the Senate.

Farmers, Ranchers Concerned About Animal Welfare

Animal welfare is a priority issue of the American Farm Bureau Federation. For farmers and ranchers, the well-being of their animals is of primary importance. Producing healthy food for this country requires that livestock and poultry producers protect their animals from disease, injury, competition and predators.

Producers Urged to Participate in Public Comment Process

A public comment period is about to open regarding a mine expansion in southeast Idaho that produces an element critical to agriculture worldwide.

Making a Meaningful Contribution to the Planet

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered recently broadcast a program about San Francisco residents and their celebration of Earth Day. As part of Earth Day’s 39th anniversary, a group of northern Californians were urging everyone to boycott beef and cheese for the day. They say this boycott will lessen agriculture’s carbon footprint.

County Farm Bureaus Working Together

Two examples of county Farm Bureaus working for the greater good came to light in this past month that deserve recognition.

Animal Rights Organizations Amplify Anguish of Unwanted Horses

In yet another case of misguided activism, animal rights groups have put American taxpaying citizens out of work and helped create a cottage industry that brutalizes innocent animals.

UI Economists Tabulate Agriculture’s Economic Contribution

An economic analysis recently released by the University of Idaho shows agriculture is the single biggest contributor to the economic base of this state.

The State of Idaho Agriculture

Much like the rest of our economy, Idaho agriculture faces turbulent times. The cost of almost everything that goes into producing crops and livestock rose to unprecedented levels last year. Many of those costs such as fertilizer and fuel have backed off in recent months, but others such as seed and feed remain high. In spite of all the economic volatility, Idaho agriculture producers remain ready to take advantage of market opportunities and will continue to be a stabilizing sector of the economy.

Feds Propose New Livestock Tax

Former U.S. President, the late Ronald Reagan once said government’s view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

California Water Crisis Signals Warning for Other States

A drought that’s lasted only two years is creating serious problems in this nation’s most populous state. And other Western states, including Idaho, had better take notice of the simple fact that if we don’t increase water storage we are putting our food supply and our economy in jeopardy.

Be Informed About Voter Initiatives on Agriculture

California voters will decide this fall whether to support an initiative that bans certain agricultural practices long used in the production of meat and eggs. And something similar to Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, may be headed to Idaho and many other states in the near future.

Labeling Legislation Comes to Fruition

Although it took six years, American agriculture has reason to celebrate this month as federal regulators are putting finishing touches on a law requiring food to be labeled by its country of origin.

Addressing Misconceptions About Agriculture

Farmers and ranchers need consumers of all ages to understand more about modern agriculture and how the food they eat is produced. Yet with over 100 activist groups using a combined annual budget of $500 million to constantly attack agriculture, we are often playing defense in spite of the fact that American consumers have access to the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply of anywhere on the planet.

Judge Rules Rural Idaho is Expendable – Wolves Aren’t

Pop quiz folks: What’s more important; rural Idaho families or the perception of genetic viability among Canadian gray wolves? If you thought it was the families, business owners and the agricultural economy that built this state, we’re sorry but you are wrong.

Food Prices Up Slightly During Second Quarter

Retail food prices at supermarkets increased 3.5 percent over the last three months, according to an American Farm Bureau Federation market basket survey. Each quarter, AFBF sends out shoppers with a list of 16 basic food items including milk, eggs, vegetable oil, bacon, fryer chickens, white bread, ground chuck and others. In the last survey, 87 shoppers in 36 different states participated.

Coalition Unfairly Targets Ethanol Industry

A swarm of angry lobbyists recently launched an erroneous smear campaign blaming ethanol for increasing food prices, threatening crucial ecosystems and being bad for the economy, among other evils.

Farm Bill Moving Forward - Finally

With any piece of legislation that runs 1,500 to 2,000 pages in length, there’s going to be some bad with the good. The farm bill package, passed by Congress this week, is no exception. Like making sausage, everything in there isn’t mouth-watering, but the end product turned out politically palatable. At least that’s what 318 House members and 81 U.S. Senators thought.

Young Farmers and Ranchers Anticipate Bright Future

A recent American Farm Bureau Federation survey shows young farmers and ranchers are optimistic about the future and a majority believe they are better off now than they were five years ago.

Why Food Prices Are Increasing

It’s no secret that your dollar doesn’t stretch as far at the grocery store today as it did in the recent past. American Farm Bureau Federation Market Basket Survey results show an increase of $3.42 in the total price of 16 basic grocery items during the first quarter of 2008, as compared to the last quarter of 2007.

Compromise Reached on Crop Residue Burning

Legislation aimed at reinstating Idaho farmers’ ability to burn crop residue is a big benefit that will help keep families on their farms. But it wouldn’t have been possible without making compromises that came in the form of increased regulations.

Legal Challenge to Wolf Delisting is Irrational

The reintroduction of Canadian gray wolves into Idaho, Wyoming and Montana is arguably one of the most successful projects of its kind ever undertaken. In just over 12 years, these incredibly efficient predators multiplied over 15 times the number reintroduced, far exceeding what the top federal biologists predicted.

Water Storage Capacity Lags Population Growth

The ongoing legal battle between surface water irrigators and groundwater pumpers may well be made insignificant if Gem State population growth continues to trend higher and nothing is done to increase water storage capacity.

F&G Gives Marvel the Hand

If you’re not man enough to face your foe, just sneak up and shove him in the back. That’s the newest method of getting your point across being employed by environmental extremist Jon Marvel, who made headlines this week after he shoved an Idaho Fish and Game commissioner from behind at a public hearing.

Action on Immigration Reform Past Due

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman may have summed up our nation’s immigration situation best this week saying up to $9 billion in agricultural production and the nation’s food security are at risk if immigration laws are not reformed. “Either we can make it possible for temporary foreign workers to help us grow the food in the U.S. or they will stay in their country and grow food for the U.S.,” he said.

Gaining a Better Understanding of the Farm Bill

The farm bill comes up for Congressional review every five to seven years. It’s a huge piece of legislation, encompassing food and nutrition programs, welfare programs, conservation programs, and of course, the farm supports that editorial page writers cannot resist.

Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Inches Higher This Year

Menu items for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings will cost more this year, but remain affordable, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Ethanol Expansion Forcing Agriculture to Change, Adapt

The explosive growth of U.S. ethanol production is being felt in almost every sector of agriculture and beyond. With many Americans now using ethanol blended gasoline to power their vehicles, demand for corn is shooting through the roof, which is forcing changes in how we live.

Farm Animal Welfare and Consumer Perceptions

Times are changing in the animal agriculture sector as large restaurant chains and grocery stores have started passing down new regulations based on how they believe consumers want food produced.

Fire Intensity, Magnitude Could Have Been Less

A massive range fire that recently scorched over half a million acres of public and private land in southwest Idaho can be attributed to high fuel accumulation – the lone variable that can be managed.

Immigration Situation Worsens

Two federal agencies announced plans this week to crack down on the hiring of illegal immigrants. With consideration of the current bureaucratic-laden guest worker program (H2-A) coupled with a rapidly approaching harvest season, this news is troubling for Idaho agriculture.

Study Shows Higher Corn Prices Have Little Effect on Cost of Food

A recently released study by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) economists shows increased demand for corn driven by ethanol production has little to do with a recent rise in food prices.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform Needed

American farmers and ranchers face a “Catch 22,” when it comes to hiring and verifying the status of their workforce. It is illegal to knowingly hire someone who is not authorized to work, but the employer is limited in what he or she may ask to determine who is authorized.

Farm Bill Discussions Underway

Congress has recently taken up the discussion over farm support legislation and the predominant sentiment from beltway insiders is there will be less money and more people after it.

Assessing the 2007 Legislative Session

After a strenuous three-month long session, Idaho’s citizen legislators recently packed their bags and left Boise for another year. Setting budgets and holding costs without increasing taxes is an accomplishment in and of itself. However, many pundits didn’t see it that way, criticizing legislators for not accomplishing much.

Crop Residue Burning Ban Inflicts Hardship on Family Farms

The directors of Idaho’s departments of environmental quality and agriculture met with north Idaho farmers recently to spell out the details of a recent court decision to ban crop residue burning and to admonish growers not to violate the new rule.

Correcting the Course of Our Nation’s Energy Future

America’s energy system has steered off course. Our reliance on fossil fuels makes us vulnerable to unstable supplies and prices and weakens our security. As we enter the 21st century, we have an opportunity to chart a new course for our energy future. Our nation’s farmers, ranchers and forest land owners have set a bold vision that uses our abundant, renewable energy resources to steer us to new economic opportunities and jobs, stronger national security, and a cleaner, healthier environment.

Sensitivity of Records Outweighs Public’s Right to Know

Just because a government agency collects information, it doesn’t always mean that information should be made public. Sometimes, government agencies collect private, sensitive information that should not be subject to full disclosure.

Biofuel Dynamics and Rural Economies

A group of scientists called CAST (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology) recently released a detailed research paper titled, “Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: Implications for Research and Policy,” that takes a comprehensive look at how biofuel development will affect our economy and environment.

Idaho Will Be Well Served By New Speaker

Although viewed with some concern in Ada County, last week’s announcement of Lawerence Denney, a Republican from Midvale, as the new speaker of Idaho’s House of Representatives was especially well received in rural Idaho.

Thanksgiving Survey Shows Cost Increase

Shoppers from across the country recently participated in the American Farm Bureau’s 21st Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Price Survey, revealing a 3.5 percent cost increase compared to last year.

Make Plans to Vote; It’s Your Civic Duty

Some people think it makes little difference whether they take time out to cast a ballot. And in some elections they’re probably right. But try thinking about it this way. Voting gives you the unbridled right to complain about stuff.

Big Oil Posts Record Profits; Consumers Suffer Consequences

Big Oil continues to rake in big bucks, much to the detriment of American consumers. Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, posted third quarter earnings of $10.49 billion, the second-largest quarterly profit ever recorded by a publicly traded U.S. company.

Wolves Prompt Forest Service Emergency Evacuation

According to news reports out of Ketchum this week, howling wolves heeded the emergency helicopter evacuation of two U.S. Forest Service employees from the Sawtooth Wilderness in late September.

Endangered Species Recovery: Daunting, Expensive, Uncertain

At the behest of a group of congressmen intent on reforming the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Government General Accounting Office (GAO) circulated a report this week highlighting the extreme difficulties associated with recovery of endangered plant and animal species.

Energy to Play Prominent Role in Next Farm Bill

Discussions that will shape the next U.S. Farm Bill are underway on Capitol Hill, and with skyrocketing energy prices, Congress ought to be looking for home-based solutions to this serious problem before it’s too late.

New Law Aims to Break Big Oil Monopoly

A new law signed by New York Gov. George Pataki stops oil companies from using long-term exclusivity contracts that prohibit fuel retailers from selling cleaner burning bio-fuels like ethanol and biodiesel.

Farm Sector Faces Labor Squeeze

Communicating the importance of a healthy farm sector is a continual challenge. The U.S.-produced food supply is facing dozens of serious and difficult issues including rising energy costs, labor, urban encroachment, unfair trade practices, taxes, and a general lack of understanding of what it takes to produce a food supply for 300 million Americans.

WTO Suspends Talks, Creates U.S. Ag Dilemma

World Trade Organization officials announced July 24 the failure of negotiators to find common ground, suspending discussions for an undisclosed period. Negotiations could not move forward because many nations, including the European Union and India were not willing to meet the U.S. call for real improvements in market access but continued to demand ever-increasing reductions to U.S. domestic agriculture support programs.

Property Tax Relief Needed

Over the past year, the State of Idaho collected $200 million more from taxpayers than it should have. That’s a big boo-boo that the Idaho Legislature needs to take some time to correct.

Avoiding Wolf Conflicts

The Idaho Fish and Game Department sent out a news release recently (June 12) advising residents how to keep their dogs from being ripped to shreds by wolves.

Potato Growers Gaining Control of Marketplace

For the past decade Idaho potato growers have been fighting a battle of attrition. The cost of growing potatoes has continued to escalate while the market value of potatoes remained mostly flat.

Dairy Farmers Agree to Ammonia Regulations

Idaho dairy farmers recently agreed to a proactive set of new regulations to help curb ammonia emissions on large farms. In developing and adopting these new rules, Idaho dairy farmers have shown yet another proactive example of collaboration that will reduce dairy farm effects on neighbors and show environmental stewardship.

Corn Belt “Little Oil” Boom Underway

An ethanol boom is sweeping the Midwest with investors pouring millions into new production facilities. Iowa currently has 22 ethanol refineries in production, seven under construction and 20 more in the planning stages.

A Solid Choice for Interior Secretary

Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne’s record on states rights, Endangered Species Act reform and his knowledge of many other important issues in the West makes him a solid choice for Secretary of Interior.

U.S., Canada Strike Softwood Lumber Accord

U.S. and Canadian trade officials recently agreed on a set of core principles that could end a long running trade dispute over softwood lumber, a commodity commonly used in building construction.

Survey Shows Young Farmer Optimism

Results of a yearly survey of young farmers and ranchers ages 18-35 conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation revealed that 95 percent of respondents hope their children follow in their footsteps. The only time this percentage was higher was in 1996, when nearly 96 percent of respondents said they want to see their children earn a living on the farm.

Mapping the Future of U.S. Agriculture

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently enlisted a group of volunteer farmers and ranchers from across the country to develop a vision for the future of U.S. agriculture.

Alternative Fuels Make Sense for Idaho

The demand for crude oil worldwide is skyrocketing and experts are predicting both demand and cost of fuel will continue to increase.

A Minor Ministerial

The World Trade Organization (WTO) held its scheduled biannual ministerial conference in Hong Kong Dec. 13-18, 2005, with the purpose of advancing the Doha Round of trade negotiations.

2006 Ag Exports will Likely Raise Bar Again

The Agriculture Department says U.S. farmers could raise the bar for exports again in 2006.

Trade Is Worth the Work

The current round of trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) is at a critical point. The negotiations recently entered into a new phase with member nations placing more detailed proposals on the table.

Take Part in Resolving Roadless Issues

The Bush and Kempthorne administrations are giving Idaho residents a great opportunity to play a role in developing management plans for 9.3 million acres of public lands.

ESA Reform Long Overdue

Out of the 1,260 species of plants and animals listed since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law in 1973, 17 have been recovered. That’s about a one percent success ratio and it’s a statistic that highlights the need to reform this legislation.

Ag Trade Impacts of Hurricane Katrina

Farmers and ranchers located in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee that were directly hit by Hurricane Katrina are dealing with crop damage or destruction, livestock losses and in the case of the dairy industry, lack of refrigerated transport forcing farmers to dump their milk.

Let’s Be Honest About Wolves in Idaho

The federal experts released mid-year wolf population statistics this week and to absolutely no one’s surprise, numbers are up.

Shaping the Future of U.S. Agriculture

To farmers, ranchers and anyone else interested in the development of the next Farm Bill, now is the time to voice concerns about current programs and help shape the future of American agriculture.

Eminent Domain Focus Shifts to States

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has changed the definition of eminent domain leaving private property vulnerable to government seizure.

U.S. Agriculture Stands to Benefit from Currency Adjustment

On July 21, the central bank of China announced the elimination of the Chinese currency’s peg to the U.S. dollar.

Exports to China Hit Record Levels

Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne recently led a delegation of Idaho business leaders on a two-week trade mission to Asia. The group met with business leaders from China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Idaho Farm Bureau leaders were pleased to have the opportunity to participate.

Ill-Advised “Wild” Horse Legislation Passes House

The War on the West continued in Congress recently with the U.S. House of Representatives passing legislation that protects both feral and privately owned horses from slaughter.

Alternative Fuels Mean Economic Freedom

Big Oil has America in a headlock and it’s high time for our government to step up and do something about it. That something is to support renewable, clean-burning alternative fuels like ethanol and biodiesel.

Redouble Efforts to Fight Noxious Weeds

As the invading forces of noxious weeds continue their vigilant march across Idaho this spring, county, state and federal officials are planning and coordinating various control efforts. Some of those control efforts have yielded outstanding payoffs, while others are in need of more public support.

Ruling Favors Private Property Rights

Jon Marvel’s underhanded efforts to destroy Idaho’s livestock ranching traditions were dealt a lethal blow recently by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

IFBF Tracks Wide Range of Legislative Issues

The 2005 Idaho legislative session was dominated by water issues. While the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation has been heavily involved in those important water issues, with help from our volunteers and staff, we have also been able to influence a wide variety of other legislative issues.

Rural America Needs an Energy Policy

While the 108th Congress was busy debating the importance of comprehensive energy legislation, U.S. farmers and ranchers were forced to absorb an additional $6.2 billion in higher energy costs during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons.

Send Water Deal Back to the Negotiating Table

After a strenuous review process, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation delegates voted to oppose the Nez Perce Water Agreement on December 2. After putting forth the effort to understand what this complex agreement does and doesn’t do, we believe that although there are many positives, the compromise of private property rights outweighs the potential benefits.

Livestock Owners Prepare For Mandatory ID Program

Idaho recently received a $1.6 million grant to help set up a program that can trace livestock from birth to barn inside 48 hours.

Enjoy Multiple Use Lands

It’s the time of the year when thousands of us head for the backcountry to take in some last chance camping, firewood gathering, hunting, fishing or perhaps just a nice drive, a picnic and a chance to enjoy the colors of autumn. Here in Idaho we are blessed to have access to large tracts of public land managed by the state, Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.

Farm Programs Benefit All Americans

The need to ingest nutritional substances is one thing we all have in common. Agriculture has an important role in fulfilling that need, but how the federal government interacts in the farm gate to dinner plate process is often misunderstood.

Railroad Holds Farm Products Hostage

Amber waves of grain have been reduced to large golden piles along roadways across southern Idaho in recent weeks. Our wheat shouldn’t be piled on the ground at the weather’s mercy but elevator managers have little choice when storage bins are full and there are no rail cars available.

Brucellosis Management Coming To A Head

Wyoming officials are facing some difficult decisions related to how best to manage elk and bison that carry brucellosis. Some of the options under consideration are likely to change how Idaho manages the disease.

Optimistic Agenda Set For WTO Talks

The General Council for the World Trade Organization recently established parameters for another round of global negotiations to take place in Hong Kong in 2005. This agreement is like a map for the road ahead. Now, as U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick described it, it’s up to negotiators to “set speed limits for how far and how fast we will lower trade barriers to growth and development.”

Energy Legislation Past Due

Although unfortunate, it’s an accepted reality that not much gets done in Washington D.C. during an election year. At a time when most politicians are putting their energy into campaigning, Americans could use some effort directed at an energy policy.

Feds Erase Another Pack

Federal agents cut down another pack of wolves in late July a few miles north of McCall. This is the third consecutive year when the feds have had to step in and turn an entire pack into worm food. While there have been hundreds of other incidents when the feds darted and transported or killed individuals or smaller groups of problem wolves, this unexpected trend of gunning down entire packs raises a number of questions.

Create A Defensible Space

In 2003 western wildfires destroyed 4,000 homes and killed 22 people. Fire suppression costs amounted to over $20 million and damages totaled over $1 billion. Here in Idaho more and more families are moving into rural areas. Residents need to do all they can to protect their homes from brush and forest fires before those fires begin to roar.

Questions About Wolves Remain

Alaska state game managers last winter authorized aerial gunning of wolves over 20,000 square miles (less than 2 percent) of the state to help recover a moose population that people from four small towns subsist on.

Sheep “Sack” Central Idaho

Citing concerns for federally reintroduced wolves and threatened bull trout in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), Hailey architect Jon Marvel is threatening to sue the Forest Service if it doesn’t eliminate sheep grazing on four allotments.