By Sean Ellis
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
POCATELLO –The University of Idaho’s “Idaho AgBiz” website offers a lot of helpful resources to farmers and ranchers but it also may be one of the best-hidden gems of the Gem State.
UI officials would like to change that and make more producers in Idaho aware of the resource.
The website offers a wide variety of resources for farmers and ranchers, including crop and livestock budgets, regionally specific market information, educational tools and “decision aids,” all of which are based on Idaho-specific farming data.
But Ashlee Westerhold, a UI area Extension economist who manages the website, suspects many producers in the state don’t know about the web page, which has been around since 2013 and can be found online quickly by searching for, Idaho AgBiz.
“I don’t think it has been widely promoted and discussed enough and that’s probably why more people in Idaho aren’t using it,” she said. “We have all of these resources on a one-page system for Idaho producers and we have been finding that a lot of people don’t know that we do this.”
She said there about 6,000 downloads each year of different resources on the web page, particularly the crop and livestock budgets, but many of those are done by fellow academics in other states that don’t have the types of farm budgets that the UI website does.
Westerhold said the university is making a push to try to ensure more producers in Idaho are aware of the website.
The many resources located at the website are meant to help producers make better decisions, said UI Agricultural Economist Ben Eborn, who has put together many of the publications and resources available on the website.
“There are a lot of different tools on that website that we have put together to help farmers and ranchers measure and manage their cost of production to try to help them be more profitable,” he said.
Westerhold said the crop and livestock budgets are the most popular feature on the website and are designed to help producers better understand their important break-even costs. They allow producers to enter their own farm’s information into a budget that will help them estimate costs and returns.
The crop budgets are updated in odd years, while the livestock budgets are updated in even years.
The crop budgets are set up by geographic regions in the state – North, Southwest, Southeast, Southcentral – and are also divided by irrigated and non-irrigated land. Crop budgets exist for potatoes, barley, wheat, beans, hay, bluegrass, silage corn, sugar beets, onions and peppermint.
For livestock, there are cow-calf, dairy and feedlot and replacement heifer budgets as well as sheep and goat budgets and stocker beef budgets.
Andy Rogerson, who farms with his father in Eden near Twin Falls, said he mainly uses the website for its various crop budgets. He also checks it for upcoming classes and courses.
“We do our own budget every year and it’s a helpful tool for that,” he said. “We might not need all the information we get through there but we take what pertains to us specifically and it’s a great resource for that.”
“It’s an easy resource to use and it provides information that you don’t have to go scouring the internet to find,” he added.
Input suppliers and other farmers and ranchers are surveyed to come up with the Idaho-specific data and costs – fertilizer, pesticides, water, power, labor, etc. – that are included in the budgets.
The website includes custom rate guides that people who are doing custom work or thinking about doing it can use to determine what to charge for their work.
The website also links to Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s regularly updated Market Report and it includes “decision aids,” which are tools that can make recommendations to producers whether, for example, to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program or switch to a Low Elevation Spray Application irrigation system.
“We’re just trying to make it as user-friendly as possible so that producers don’t necessarily have to put pen to paper to find out the equation for themselves; they just have to plug in their information,” Westerhold said.
Under a tab titled, “Education Resources,” producers can find information about commodity marketing, farm business management programs, succession planning and other farm and ranch management tools.
The website includes information about crop and livestock markets and it also includes the various publications published by UI researchers and agricultural economists.
UI’s annual “Idaho Ag Outlook” seminars will be held virtually this year and they will be recorded and available on the website.
“We have lots of resources on there,” said Westerhold, who added that she welcomes and seeks input from producers on how to improve the website.
“We want to hear input from producers so we can make changes or create new budgets that producers are wanting to see and use,” she said. “If we need to have a corn for grain budget, then let’s do it.”
The information and tools provided for the website’s many resources come from a wide array of researchers, ag economists and other industry experts.
“We do have a good farm management team that is very collegial and we all work together to provide the best information for producers,” Westerhold said. “We know what it means to them to have valuable and trustworthy information.”
For more information about the website, contact Westerhold at email@example.com or by phone at (208) 736-3604.