BOISE- The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation hosted it’s 2022 Legislative Conference this week February 8th - February 9th. More than 170 members registered to attend this year’s conference allowing a great opportunity for our members to be engaged with their legislators and experience the legislative process.
The conference began Tuesday with a luncheon where members were able to have a zoom call with Congressman Fulcher, Congressman Simpson and Senator Risch. Our members were briefed on some of the happenings around D.C. and were able to ask questions relevant to their operations.
After lunch there was a full agenda with both ISDA and Idaho Water Resource Board (IDWR) addressing our members and informing them on some of the issues they are working on currently. This was followed by the IFBF Governmental Affairs team giving a presentation on current issues and bills that are pertinent to our members and having a discussion on how best to build a relationship with their legislators.
That evening members utilized the tips given to them earlier in the day as well as their own knowledge of the issues discussed by Governmental Affairs during our Annual Legislative Dinner. Over 90 legislators and other agency heads/elected officials were in attendance to share a meal and conversation with IFBF members. This dinner is where the real connections are made that will have the greatest impact for our members and our policy moving forward.
Wednesday morning started with a breakfast and guest speakers Brad Griff with Snake River Sugarbeet Growers Association and Clark Johnston, Marketing Specialist. After breakfast members loaded onto buses to head over to our State Capitol Building. Upon arrival, members were able to attend committee meetings on either the House or Senate side. This allowed our members to visualize how these hearings operate and gain a better understanding of the process. Following the committee meetings, members could choose to either attend a tour of the capitol or sit in on guest speakers from Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office. Our day at the capitol wrapped up with members having the opportunity to sit in the galleries of the House and Senate chambers to watch their legislators in action on the floor.
When members arrived back from the statehouse, there was one final lunch, where we were joined by Congressman Crapo’s staff. Unfortunately, the Congressman was held up in a vote and unable to address our members directly. However, staffers gave an excellent update on issues the Congressman has been working on and answered questions from our membership.
Farm Bureau is very pleased with the outcome of this year’s Legislative Conference. Providing a hands-on and visual experience to see firsthand how the legislative process operates. This is a huge benefit to our members as we continue to grow leaders in agriculture. We appreciate our members taking the time to attend and being so engaged throughout the conference. We look forward to hosting even more members next year.
BOISE- This week, H558 was introduced in the House Resources Committee. It is sponsored by many legislators including House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), Rep Marc Gibbs (R-Grace), Rep Laurie Lickley (R-Jerome), Rep Judy Boyle (R-Midvale), Rep Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett), Senator Van Burtenshaw (R-Terreton) and Senator Mark Harris (R-Soda Springs).
The purpose of H558 is to clarify the procedure used by the State of Idaho prior to an order declaring certain stockwater rights to be forfeited under I.C. Sec. 42-222 for failure to put the rights to beneficial use for a term of five years or more.
As Farm Bureau has been a leader on this issue for years, we had a number of questions about the bill and were able to meet with the sponsors this week to discuss. After a robust discussion, it was determined that a couple of items could be further strengthened, and a new RS will be introduced with the additional text.
Current Idaho law had set up the framework for a procedure to forfeit stockwater rights for non-use. However, since the federal government holds a large number of stockwater rights in Idaho, it was discovered the procedures need to be modified to comply with some arcane federal legal requirements or they would not be legally binding on a federal agency. H558 seeks to ensure that all the correct procedures are in place so everything is done legally and legitimately if the federal government is ever involved in a forfeiture case.
It is expected that the new RS will be introduced today incorporating the suggested changes. The new bill will then have a full hearing in House Resources in the near future. After the IFBF Board of Directors visited with Bill Meyers, the attorney who drafted the bill, and asked questions, there was considerable discussion about the bill. With the additional language that has been included to strengthen the bill, the IFBF Board of Directors have approved support for the bill.
BOISE- Last week, we reported on a bill (H466) that would aid dairies and feedlots with nutrient management strategies. This week, the sponsors of the bill presented a new version – H559 – that will serve as a replacement. The new bill is largely the same as the previous, with a few minor corrections and further clarifications.
The purpose of H559 is to provide the statutory authority to allow for the process of implementing and financially supporting environmental projects on CAFOs to improve livestock byproducts, waste, nutrient and water management, land application, and storage systems. The existing Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMP) Fund supports investments in farm and ranch projects that improve water quality standards in impaired water bodies in Idaho. Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are not eligible for these projects/funding because CAFOs do not directly discharge to water bodies.
The bill was passed unanimously out of committee and now sits on the House second reading calendar. AFBF Policy #5220.127.116.11 supports the use of voluntary best management practices to be included in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) nutrient management plans. IFBF Policy also supports programs that educate livestock operators on techniques regarding managed nutrient systems, especially if implemented consistent with BMPs developed by extension, university, and the livestock industry. IFBF supports H559.
BOISE- Several water bills were introduced in the Senate Resources Committee this week. One bill, S1278, deals with what happens to water rights as property is transferred.
Specifically, S1278 creates a new section in Idaho Code to outline what happens with water rights and entitlements when property changes hands. The bill simply codifies existing common law and practice relating to the conveyance of water rights and entitlements, including that all appurtenant water rights are conveyed unless expressly retained by the seller. In addition, all entitlements to receive water from an irrigation district, city irrigation system, or canal company are conveyed as are the obligations associated with membership in a groundwater district.
S1278 is being brought and sponsored by the Idaho Water Users Association. The purpose of this article is to simply make our members aware of this effort. As previously stated, the bill clearly establishes in law the existing understanding and common law regarding the conveyance of water rights and entitlements. This is a growing concern as the state’s population continues to grow and more property is exchanged. Farm Bureau will continue to monitor the bill as it makes its way through the process.
BOISE- A bill (H584) that facilitates the process of the Idaho Water Resource Board (IWRB) application for the water rights that will pertain to the increased storage space of the proposed Anderson Ranch Dam raise was introduced this week.
In past years, the legislature has provided funds to the Idaho Water Resource Board to complete a raise of the Anderson Ranch dam. IWRB has filed a water right application with the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) for this project. The IDWR Director evaluates each water right application under certain criteria set out in Idaho law. This legislation states that this specific water right application from IWRB satisfies certain of these criteria. It declares that the application is made in good faith and not for delay or speculative purposes, is in the local public interest, is consistent with the conservation of water resources in the state of Idaho, and will not adversely affect the local economy of the Boise River watershed.
Simply put, H584 is being proposed to address certain issues that have arisen with how the Director of IDWR evaluates water rights applications for large storage projects and will allow IWRB to focus on other issues related to the project.
IFBF supports the construction, improvement, and increased size of water storage facilities for the multiple beneficial uses of Idaho’s water. IFBF supports H584.