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Capitol Reflections: 2023 Session, Issue 3

By: Idaho Farm Bureau Governmental Affairs

“Consideration of the compensation question must begin with direct reference to the language of the Fifth Amendment, which provides in relevant part that "private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation." As its language indicates, and as the Court has frequently noted, this provision does not prohibit the taking of private property, but instead places a condition on the exercise of that power.  This basic understanding of the Amendment makes clear that it is designed not to limit the governmental interference with property rights per se, but rather to secure compensation in the event of otherwise proper interference amounting to a taking. Thus, government action that works a taking of property rights necessarily implicates the constitutional obligation to pay just compensation." US Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist - First Lutheran Church v. Los Angeles County, 482 US 304  (1987)






Chanel Tewalt Appointed Director of ISDA



Governor Brad Little appointed Chanel Tewalt as the new Director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA).  Tewalt took over as ISDA director after Celia Gould announced she was retiring. Gould, a cattle rancher from Buhl, served for 16 years as director, making her the longest-serving ISDA director ever.  She announced her retirement first in a letter to ISDA staff on Jan. 5.

The new director of Idaho’s agriculture department has an immense appreciation for the state’s farming and ranching industry.

“Not only is Idaho one of the biggest ag states in the country, but we also produce some of the finest quality ag products in the world,” newly appointed Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Chanel Tewalt told Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. “Globally, we are known for incredibly high-quality ag commodities. Our producers are known for consistency and quality, as well as their work ethic, and people know that Idaho agriculture is a great place to do business.”

Tewalt said she never ceases to be amazed at the state’s farm and ranch industry.

“The sheer productivity and the innovation that comes from the state’s ag industry, all the time, is astounding,” she said. “We are known across the globe for producing some of the highest-quality commodities, whether it’s potatoes or hay or beans or seed or cattle and dairy genetics. The list goes on and on and on.”

Idaho has almost 25,000 farms and ranches and is a national leader in many ag commodities, including potatoes, alfalfa hay, barley, peppermint oil, seed crops, dairy, hops and food trout.

According to a University of Idaho study, the state’s agriculture industry accounts directly and indirectly for one in every eight jobs in Idaho and almost 13 percent of the state’s total gross domestic product.

Tewalt, said she looks forward to promoting Idaho’s agriculture industry every chance she gets.

“I want to highlight the incredible things this industry does,” she said. “Highlighting the ag industry at every turn is something that I love doing and something that I want to do.”

Tewalt worked at ISDA for more than 15 years, served as the agency’s chief operations officer and served as deputy director starting in 2021.

Idaho Farm Bureau Federation CEO Zak Miller thanked Gould for her many years of service to the state’s agricultural industry and applauded Little’s appointment of Tewalt as her replacement.

“Celia has done a great job helping guide Idaho’s farm and ranch industry through good as well as difficult times and Idaho agriculture has benefited from her leadership,” he said. “At the same time, Farm Bureau has also worked closely with Tewalt during her time at the agency and we have no doubt she is more than qualified to lead the Idaho State Department of Agriculture forward.”

Tewalt said one of the greatest lessons she learned from Gould was balance and the importance of implementing ISDA programs in a consistent manner, while remaining flexible.

“Within code and rule, we are called to do a lot of things but you have to also implement all of those things with consistency and fairness and careful balance,” she said. “You also have to know that the way you implement things today isn’t necessarily always the way it will be implemented forever. Statutes change, rules change, the practices of the industry change, so we have to be adaptable to that and know that our cues are taken from the industry and not the other way around.”

Tewalt said she understands that the ag department serves the state’s farming industry and not vice versa.

“As an agency, it’s not just about enforcing, it’s also about making things practical and realistic for the community that we serve, understanding that we serve the most important industry in the state,” she said.

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture provides a wide variety of services to the state’s farming and ranching industry and also has an important enforcement role to ensure the protection of consumers, as well as the ag industry.

The agency has about 225 full-time positions but also hires a lot of seasonal staff and peak employment can reach about 500 during harvest and inspection season.

“What we pride ourselves in is doing that work diligently and fairly, but also quietly,” Tewalt said. “It is not our job to make a splash. We do our job as quietly and consistently as we can.”






U of I CALS and Idaho Nat’l Laboratory Present Before Committees


This week, legislative committees heard presentations from the U of I College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). These two institutions give annual reports to the legislature and update policymakers on current issues they are addressing.

Dean Michael Parrella talked about many aspects of the college, its several programs and offerings to students, industry, and communities around the state. He also gave an important overview and history of the Morrill Land-Grand Act which allowed for the creation of the land-grant colleges throughout the nation.

Dean Parrella talked about the Land-Grant mission and how the U of I CALS is carrying that out today through research, education, and extension services. The Dean also gave updates on the Parma Research & Extension Center and facility improvements that are happening there. He also gave a project update on the Center for Agriculture, Food & the Environment (CAFE) center located in Minidoka County which anticipates welcoming its first visitors and milking the first cows upon construction completion which is scheduled for this calendar year.

For more specific information regarding these two locations, please visit the following websites: Parma Research & Extension Center / U of I, and CAFE / U of I.

John Wagner, INL Director, reviewed the scope of work for the lab with the House Energy, Environment, and Technology Committee on Thursday. INL directly focuses on issues and topics that private industry does not or cannot operate in for whatever reason. Its primary purpose is to research, develop, and demonstrate new and emerging technologies that can eventually be adapted in the private sector.

There are five sectors or areas within INL. They include Nuclear Science and Technology, Advanced Test Reactor Complex, Materials and Fuels Complex, Energy & Environment Science & Technology, and National & Homeland Security Science and Technology. These areas of focus have made the site of particular interest for topics of cyber and critical infrastructure security, modern nuclear energy technology development, and energy/battery storage.

So much of what is done at INL looks to find solutions for the large energy and national security challenges of our day. More information regarding the work done at the INL can be found here: Idaho National Laboratory.









 A resolution was introduced to amend the Idaho Constitution to require that all initiatives/referenda petitions must receive the signatures of 6% of the registered voters in each of the 35 legislative districts to qualify for the ballot.  If this sounds familiar, it is because it is exactly the same language Farm Bureau helped shepherd through the legislative process two years ago, which the Idaho Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom found to be unconstitutional.  Senator Doug Okuniewicz (R-Hayden), the sponsor of the constitutional amendment, stated that if the people vote to amend the constitution to include this requirement, that will resolve the question of constitutionality. 

To amend the constitution, the resolution must be approved by a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate and then it will be placed upon the ballot in November 2024.  There it must receive a majority vote of the people to be approved. Unfortunately, there will be a tremendous amount of effort put forward by opponents who will bring literally millions of dollars into Idaho to flood the airwaves to oppose this effort. 

There are several other ideas floating around the legislature that would strengthen the initiative process in different ways.  We will likely see a few other ideas introduced and the legislature will ultimately determine which ideas merit their support








CDL Renewal


This week H9 passed out of the House Transportation Committee unanimously and is headed to the floor with a do-pass recommendation. This bill will allow Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders to renew their licenses online. This brings CDL renewal in line with other licenses that are already available for renewal online. The goal is to provide customer convenience and cut back on unnecessary foot traffic in local county DMV offices. This provides better efficiency overall and saves the costs of paperwork and manual change of hands when at a DMV office.

IFBF policy #161.3 supports H9.









Vaccines in Food Labeling



This week a bill was introduced which would prohibit “any food that contains a vaccine or vaccine material” unless it has a “conspicuous notification of the presence of the vaccine or vaccine material” on the food labeling.  The bill, S1018, is sponsored by Senator Tammy Nichols (R-Middleton) and was introduced in the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee.  Senator Nichols shared a couple of examples where food products have been used to deliver vaccines to people, and of research currently being conducted on the effectiveness of different food products to deliver vaccines to people.  Due to events of the past few years, there is a concern that vaccines could potentially be delivered to people without their knowledge through food products.

After the introduction, Senator Nichols asked Farm Bureau to review the bill and provide our input.  She explained her intent is only to ensure that any food products that contain a vaccine intended to target the consumer of the food to be conspicuously labeled so no consumer is unwittingly consuming food that contains a vaccine.  She further explained it was not her intent to prevent or restrict the vaccination of livestock, nor to require the labeling of the food products derived from livestock that had been vaccinated to protect the livestock from disease.

Senator Nichols said she would be open to language that we believe would be helpful in clarifying the bill to achieve her intent while not causing inadvertent consequences that would negatively affect Idaho’s livestock producers.  IFBF has reviewed the bill and is sharing some language with Senator Nichols that we believe will accomplish her intent while providing protection to producers and their continuing ability to vaccinate their livestock without a requirement to label the meat.  IFBF will continue to work with Senator Nichols and will not oppose S1018  with the inclusion of our suggested language.