Capitol Reflections: 2023 Session, Issue 1
By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs
Member Legislative Intern Opportunity
The legislative session is upon us, and that means the popular IFBF Governmental Affairs team’s legislative intern program for members is open as well. The program will run from January 30th through March 17th. Interns will be booked on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of two interns each week. Any county may participate once per session.
The legislative intern program is a great opportunity for county members to get first-hand experience working with legislators and to see our legislative process in action.
It also gives legislators the opportunity to visit with county members and reinforces that Farm Bureau policy is developed at the grass-roots level. This internship is an excellent way for members to experience how our Governmental Affairs team works to implement our policy in the state. Some of the opportunities included in the internship are the ability to shadow IFBF Governmental Affairs team, speak with legislators, watch committee hearings, and see the process of legislation being created and approved by the legislature.
County Presidents will have further details on the internship program and requirements of participants. If you are interested, or have any other questions, feel free to reach out to either Braden Jensen firstname.lastname@example.org or Chyla Wilson email@example.com at the Boise office. They are happy to answer any questions and give further information on the program.
Please note that to participate in this program, you must call the Boise Farm Bureau office at 342-2688 to coordinate hotel accommodations a minimum of two weeks prior to the week you wish to book.
State of the State Address
To kick off his second term in office, Governor Brad Little delivered his 5th annual State of the State address. The House and the Senate held a joint session to hear the Governor’s legislative and budgetary priorities.
Much of the Governor’s remarks were focused on staying the course to continue leading the nation in economic momentum, revenue and job growth, responsible government, and cutting red tape. He underscored the fact that Idaho is a top ten state for economic outlook and strong fiscal policy.
Governor Little rolled out his recommendations and priorities this year in what he calls the “Idaho First” plan. First, he outlined his plan for education funding, including salary increases for teachers, making permanent the Empowering Parents grant program, and further investing in his scholarship program, Idaho Launch.
Additionally, he focused on the need to address property taxes. He reminded listeners that property tax is a local tax and that any reform efforts must not shift the burden to other taxpayers. He encouraged all units of government to come together to find a solution to address the needs of constituents and to address the root cause of the issue.
When it comes to his recommendations for the agriculture and natural resource industries, the Governor largely proposed building off past state investments. His specific recommendations are listed below:
• Providing $150 million for investments in state water infrastructure to maintain and expand water projects in Idaho that help ensure a stable water supply across Idaho.
• Investing $115 million to support drinking water and wastewater systems, with an emphasis on small rural communities in need of infrastructure upgrades that improve water quality.
• Providing $598.5k in ongoing dedicated and federal fund spending authority for chronic wasting disease monitoring and surveillance.
• Prioritizing $15 million to strengthen the state’s energy infrastructure. Funds would be used to provide advanced energy efficiency and resiliency technologies for critical infrastructure facilities.
• Investing $100 million in outdoor recreation. The Department of Parks and Recreation would leverage these funds to expand capacity and enhance accommodations to keep up with increased attendance at the state’s parks.
• Providing $12 million in grants to help farmers, ranchers, dairies, and confined animal feeding operations with environmental improvement programs. This will improve soil, water, and air quality in agricultural communities in Idaho.
It is important to remember that all the Governor’s proposals are merely recommendations. The Legislature is the arm of government that will set the state’s budget, determine which priorities receive funding, establish state policy, and write laws. The process will take the entirety of the session to complete, with many changes and adjustments along the way. Farm Bureau looks forward to working with legislators in advancing our members’ legislative priorities during the session.
Financial Condition of Idaho Ag
As part of the Economic Outlook and Revenue Assessment Committee pre-session meetings held last week, legislators heard from Dr. Garth Taylor and his colleagues as they gave an analysis of the financial condition of the agricultural industry in Idaho. Dr. Taylor started his remarks by reminding the committee that the size of the state’s economy is similar to that of Rhode Island, a very small state. However, when it comes to agriculture, Idaho’s economy is the 5th most dependent on agriculture in the nation as measured by the percentage of state GDP.
Dr. Taylor walked the committee through the specific highlights of the industry in 2022. A summary of these highlights is listed below:
• Exports from farms and food processors created a ripple effect throughout Idaho’s economy, ultimately helping to make agribusiness one of Idaho’s largest industries. About one of every six dollars in sales is directly or indirectly created by agribusiness.
• Idaho, the top potato producer, witnessed record high potato revenues in 2022, which led to estimated cash receipts nearing $1.3 billion.
• Hay surpassed wheat to become Idaho’s number two crop with estimated 2022 cash receipts of $725 million. Wheat had a strong showing as the third-largest crop with an estimated $706 million in 2022 cash receipts.
• Idaho, ranking third in the United States for milk production, garnered its highest-ever milk revenues in 2022. With estimated cash receipts for 2022 of $4.2 billion, revenues from milk production are the highest of all agricultural commodities produced in Idaho. Second to milk regarding cash receipts are those from cattle and calves, which in 2022 were $1.9 billion.
• Idaho agriculture is driven largely by livestock. Cash receipts from milk, cattle, and calves, and other livestock (trout, sheep, etc.) comprised 57% of total agricultural cash receipts for 2022. Hay, silage, feed grains, and the by-products from sugar beet and potato processing are used as feed for Idaho livestock.
• Except for 2009—a year of disastrously poor milk prices—livestock cash receipts have surpassed crop cash receipts for every year since 2001. In 2022, livestock cash receipts are estimated to surpass crop cash receipts by more than $1.65 billion.
• Idaho’s net farm income for 2022 is estimated at $3 billion, which is 56% above that of 2021 and the highest in recorded history.
• Federal government payments to Idaho producers in fiscal year 2022 are estimated at $185 million, a decrease of 36% from 2021.
The agriculture industry continues to be the backbone of the state’s economy. Over the past year, farmers/ranchers and the many supporting industries have faced various economic headwinds ranging from high inflation, backlogged supply chains, labor shortage, and ever-increasing regulatory pressures. Nonetheless, Idaho agriculture remains resilient and strong during these uncertain economic situations.
CLICK HERE to see the University of Idaho, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ full financial condition analysis.
New Legislators Means New Committee Members
Both the House and Senate gaveled into session on Monday, starting the First Regular Session of the 67th Idaho Legislature. This year the State House is filled with many new lawmakers alongside incumbents with ample experience crafting state policy. New legislators mean new members in the makeup of committees and several new Chairs and Vice Chairs in both the House and Senate. Click below to view a list of the committees, distinguishing specifically freshman legislators, Chairs, and Vice Chairs.
Resources Available to Follow the Legislature
BOISE -There are many resources available to the public to better follow the work of the Idaho Legislature. With the start of the session and additional public interest in government actions and operations, we want to provide a reminder of what is available.
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