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National farm industry leaders to visit Idaho, learn about dams

By: Sean Ellis - Idaho Farm Bureau Federation
Published in Press Release on  June 07, 2021

POCATELLO – American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall will join other national farm industry leaders June 15-16 at the Port of Lewiston for an informational tour highlighting the importance of the lower four Snake River dams and the entire Columbia-Snake River system.

The event, which is being hosted by Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and Idaho Grain Producers Association, is being held to provide national agricultural industry leaders a better understanding of how those dams and the river system benefit the ag industry in Idaho and the entire Pacific Northwest. 

During the event, Duvall and other ag leaders will tour Lower Granite Dam, which is one of the four dams on the lower Snake River.

Those dams have been targeted by environmental groups over the years for removal. Some groups believe removing the dams would help improve populations of endangered salmon.

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and other farm organizations in the Northwest support efforts to improve salmon populations but adamantly oppose dam breaching.

The tour will include presentations on how the river system facilitates the barging of large amounts of commodities to West Coast ports for export, as well as presentations on the significant harm that removing the dams would cause to farmers and others in the PNW.

Being able to see the river and dam up close will provide these national leaders a better understanding of the important role they play in supporting agriculture in the Pacific Northwest, said Stacey Katseanes Satterlee, executive director of the Idaho Grain Producers Association, which represents wheat and barley farmers in Idaho.

“We’re excited to host a number of high-level agricultural leaders from around the country and show them how important the river system and those dams are to Idaho agriculture and agriculture around the Northwest,” she said. “This tour is about providing these folks with foundational information about the importance of the river system to farmers in the Pacific Northwest.”

Besides producing a significant amount of cheap and environmentally friendly hydroelectric power to the region, the lower four Snake River dams are also part of a system on the Columbia and Snake rivers that allows wheat and barley farmers, as well as producers of other commodities, to export their product to the world by barge.

“When it comes to moving commodities in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner, river barging is hard to beat,” Satterlee said.

Removing the lower four Snake River dams would make the Columbia-Snake River system unnavigable for barges that move those commodities.

Event participants will also hear directly from PNW farmers during the tour.

According to the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association, about 14 million metric tons of wheat destined for export move through the Columbia-Snake system each year, as well as about 8 million metric tons of soybeans, 3 million tons of wood products and 9 million tons of corn.

About 10 percent of the nation’s wheat exports are moved by barge through the lower four Snake River dams each year.

The system also provides for the efficient transportation of fuel, fertilizer and machinery back up the river, which reduces freight costs to businesses and residents in the region.

“Those four dams are part of a river system that is critically important to Idaho agriculture and agriculture in the entire Northwest,” said IFBF President Bryan Searle, a farmer from Shelley. “We are proud to co-host an event that will help educate national ag industry leaders about the role the river system plays in getting huge amounts of ag commodities to port for export.”

Duvall is a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Georgia.

He will be joined by leaders from the National Association of Wheat Growers, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, CHS Primeland, the Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana state Farm Bureau organizations, and other state trade and commodity associations.

A media event will be held June 16 at the Port of Lewiston at 3:45 p.m. Media should meet at 3:15 p.m. at the main Port of Lewiston office at 1626 6th Ave. N.

To view a live broadcast of the media event online, visit www.idahofb.org/virtual.

American Farm Bureau Federation is the nation’s largest general farm group and Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is Idaho’s largest general farm organization and represents 12,000 people actively involved in the state’s farming and ranching industry.

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