Thought of the Week

From steers to cows, pigs to sows, and chicks to chickens, animal ag is our country’s number #1 customer for soy,
eating 98% of U.S. soybean meal.
Of course, in the end, we humans eat the milk,
eggs and meat that these animals produce.


Soy checkoff, Beyond the Elevator, March, 2013

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Farmer Profile – Steve Kaufman

Farmer Steve Kaufman is another of my Leadership Idaho Agriculture classmates.  He was good enough to give me some of his valuable time during harvest to talk with me, and I very much enjoyed learning more about him, and about his farm.  I know you’ll enjoy reading all about Farmer Steve!

IMG_9061Farmer Steve Kaufman lives in Lewiston, ID with his wife Christina and sons Ben, 4 and Will, 2.  While his family has been farming since they arrived in the Lewiston area in 1899, this is Steve’s first season as a full-time farmer.

Steve worked for Northwest Farm Credit services for 9 years, while farming with his family part-time, before making the jump to full-time farming.  Steve is now the 5th generation to work his family’s land.  He has about 1,700 acres himself, and his family farms about 10,000 acres total. His father, uncle, and brothers are also farmers; they share equipment, time, and advice.

Steve grew up a farmer, and loved it.  He says it is very hard work, with long hours,  but so rewarding to produce food that feeds the world.  He enjoys working with his family and how the job changes with the seasons.

Harvesting wheat on Lewiston Hill. Look at that angle!

Harvesting wheat on Lewiston Hill. Look at that angle!

The crops he grows are mainly winter and spring wheat, as well as winter canola.  Steve also grew about an acre and a half of sweet corn, which was something new this year.  They harvest the sweet corn on Friday and sell on Saturday at the Moscow Farmer’s Market.   They normally pick 2,000 ears, and sell out each week.  They are getting ready to sell through the Co-op in Moscow as well.

About 5 years ago, Steve and his wife began partnering with his brother to start a corn maze, which runs during the month of October.  They have formed a partnership with U of I College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student clubs. The students help with labor to cut and run the maze, and they get half of the profits for their club budgets.  About 10,000 people come visit the Clearwater Corn Maze each October.

The land Steve farms is dryland, meaning it is not irrigated.  A lot of his ground is in a winter wheat followed by fallow rotation.  If crop prices are high, he will do some spring cropping, or if he needs to “clean up” some ground, he’ll plant spring wheat or winter canola.  (Clean up means that he has an area that has excessive weeds, or a type of weed which is hard to control).

Dumping wheat from the combines to the truck.

Dumping wheat from the combines to the truck.

Half of his operation is no-till, meaning that the ground is not tilled after the crop is harvested, and before the new crop is planted.  The other half of his land is minimum-till.  These soil management practices help reduce erosion, improve the nutrient content of the soil, increase water in the soil, and help protect new plants.  Steve also has contour strips that help reduce erosion.  Contour farming is when the land is worked along the lines of elevation (see photo).

One of the biggest surprises to non-farming folk, Steve says, is that farming is a pretty sophisticated business now.  There is a lot of technology, computers, and high-tech equipment.  With all the GPS and variable rate technology that is becoming available in agriculture,  to be a farmer, you almost have to be a fighter pilot.  Everything is automatic these days. A farmer can coordinate yield maps from the combines with the seed drill to put varying rates of fertilizer in the ground. You have to be really smart, a hard worker and good at a lot of different things to be a successful farmer.  The old, simple ways just don’t work anymore.

Checking wheat with his future farmer!

Checking wheat with his future farmer!

Farming is a big game of risk, and although the government does have programs to support our farmers, the government also contributes to the uncertainty of farming.  We always have uncertainty in the government farm programs, and we have to choose between programs.  The government is a year or two late before they do anything – we frequently are already into the farming season (which begins in the springtime) before the government decides what programs they’ll be offering.

The crop prices are around break-even right now – just barely enough to cover all farming costs and family’s needs.  The yields off Steve’s 2014 crop were average – not devastatingly low, and not a bumper crop. With new Farm Bill, there are no direct farm payments any more. This is a big deal in dryland farming. We just hope we break even every year.  Steve adds that if you’re a low-cost producer, you’ll always stay in business:  keep costs down!

One more tractor ride after a long day.

One more tractor ride after a long day.

Despite the uncertainty and risk of farming,  Steve loves the work. He really enjoys being his own boss and getting to work out on the land.  It’s pretty nice to look out of my office; the shed or tractor cab, and see the land and sky, Steve says.   He likes working with his hands and getting to see the fruits of his labor. Also, in the evenings the deer come out, and the moon rises over the hills, and it’s wonderful. A person has to farm for the love of farming, which Steve definitely does.

Along with being a full-time farmer, husband and father, Steve is also a CARET rep for U of I – Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. He goes back to DC at least once a year to lobby for funding for agricultural research and extension. Also, every spring he helps teach local 5th and 6th graders about farming and agriculture.

When Steve and his brothers were little, his family took on some ground that needed to clean up following a cereal rye program.  Rye is closely enough related to wheat that it couldn’t be sprayed out, so we had to pull it out by hand.  Steve and family would go out together  pull rye.  The wheat was as tall as the kids were, so their  parents couldn’t see them in the field.  They had some hats – neon pink and green that their parents made them wear while pulling the rye.


Steve sees his farming as his way to ensure that peoples’ basic need for food is met, so that they can contribute to society in other ways that he and others people might benefit from. Farming is not something that people can substitute away from, and he is proud of the role that all farmers play in society.

Please visit the website for the Clearwater Corn Maze: and give Kaufman Family Farms a “like” on Facebook:



If you have any questions about farming and agriculture for Steve, please ask in the comments section!

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Thought of the Week

A farmer’s heart skips a beat when he sees
the harvest come safely in;

the grain fully stored in the silo,
the potatoes overflowing their bins,
the calf fully grown.
This is the fruit of his year’s labor,
the culmination of his plans and dreams,

and he aims for this, for harvest.

Robin W.L., Kiss My Tractor


Gregory Frank Harris A Golden Harvest Photo Source

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Vets to Farmers

Our returning soldiers need jobs, and our country needs more farmers.  For these two efforts, Michael O’Gorman, who for decades ran organic farms in California’s Salinas Valley, came up with a single solution:  teach veterans to farm.  His Farmer Veteran Coalition matches veterans with farmer mentors all over the United States, distributes information on government aid and gives money and advice to participants.  The program has grown to states and veterans all over the union.

Interested?  Check it out:, and



Sunset Magazine, March, 2014

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Watch this fun parody from the Petersen Farm Brothers, then get out and get some work done! Happy Friday!

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Thought of the Week

Farmers know they are in a speculative business;
they routinely bet on good weather and high prices.
The difference between farmers and other speculators, however, is that society needs farmers to speculate in order to provide food and fiber to the entire population.

-Steve Ford, Farm Futures, September 2013

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The 2014 Farm Bill

You know, we hear about the Farm Bill as “farmer welfare.”  Think again!  This year’s farm bill is a full 80% food stamps and nutrition!

The 2014-18 Farm Act (commonly known as the Farm Bill) will fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and expands programs for speciality crops, organic farmers, bioenergy, rural development and beginning farmers and ranchers.

80% of the outlay goes to nutrition, 8% funds crop insurance programs, 6% funds conservations programs, 5% funds commodity programs, and the remaining 1% funds all other programs, including trade, credit, rural development, research and extension, forestry, energy, horticulture and miscellaneous programs.

The total outlay for the 2014 Farm Bill is $489 billion.

Farm Bill Pie Chart-resized-600.JPG


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#19 – Pinto the BlogDog- Brodi Gets Educated by a Skunk!

HOWDY FOLKS!  Boy, it’s been awhile since I wrote y’all.  Can’t say why, neither, just lazy I reckon.  Well, have I got summat to share with y’all today!

On Saturday, we were headin’ home from our regular morning patrol ’round the farm with M’Lady.  I was being the good dog that I am, trotting right with her, and Brodi was still waaaayyyy back along the ditchbank.  Suddenly, I heard him “yelp!”  The kind of yelp that hollers “Hey, Pinto, come here quick, looky at what I cornered!”


Can you see my puffy nose? Owie!

So, naturally, I spun on a dime and raced bullet-fast back to him.  What did I see but a SKUNK!  We snarled and snapped at it, scarin’ it a bit like we like to do.  I dashed in a little too close, and got BIT on my nose!  Owie, did that hurt!  I was painin’ somethin’ fierce, so I backed off quick, and hightailed it back to M’Lady!

But Brodi, oh brother, he didn’t give it up.  Afore you knew it, that skunk had turned tail on Brodi and sprayed him right in the face and chest!  Brodi came staggering back to us, pell mell, like he’d seen the devil.  Every few feet he dived in the dirt, rubbing his face and head, tryin’ to rid that turrible smell.


Check out that can of tomato sauce. She used the whole thing on us!

Before she knew that Brodi was near us, M’Lady had taken a whiff, and peewy!  She could smell him comin’!  When we got back to the house, she put her hands on her hips and said, “Brodi my boy, it’s lucky for you that I have a giant can of tomato sauce.”  With that, she tied him up, and hosed him down, dumped half the can on him, scrubbed him up and hosed him again.  Then she put lavender shampoo all over him!  Hahahaha!


Tomato sauce Brodi! Hahaha

After his bath, he still smelled somthin’ awful, but at least it didn’t bring tears to the eye.  I was laughin’ and teasin’ at him, when M’Lady dragged me out to the tree, snapped the leash, and did the same  thing to me!  Mean!  I said, “But, M’Lady I didn’t get sprayed!  I came straight back to you!  No fair!”  “Too bad,” said she, “This is just in case, Pinto.”  It wasn’t the tomato sauce that was so bad, but lavender shampoo was just shameful for a macho dog like me.


Poor pitiful me. :(

And then, she didn’t even give my poor bit nose a glance.  She checked my rabies tag, (its current), and gave me a baby aspirin to “take the edge off the pain.”  Huh.  I’da thought she’d have given me a kiss, at least.

Well, me’n Brodi both felt putry good, all clean ‘n’ all.  I didn’t stink none, not like my pal.  M’Lady wouldn’t let ole’ Brodi inside, said he smelled to high heaven.  Later in the evening, she went out in the backyard, and sniffed the air.  Yup, sure ‘nough there was that skunky smell.  She said to TheBoss, “You know, I think that the smell is in the atmosphere, that skunk must be nearby.”  TheBoss stared at her like she was daft, and said, “M’Lady, THAT SMELL is not in the atmosphere, it’s Brodi!”

Yup, sure ‘nough, he still smells, all these days later!  He’s banished to the backyard, while I, the perfect, get to come inside anytime I want.  Well, I hope he learned his lesson, and won’t git after ‘nother skunk.  But, I’m bettin’ that won’t happen.

Well, gotta run.  M’Lady is callin’ me!

Keep your tail waggin’!

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New Blog Page!

Have you noticed our new page, Sale Barn?
If so, what how do you like it?
If not, please do!

We thought that you, our readers might enjoy being able to purchase the crops that our farmers have grown.  If you like the idea, we will work to bring you more products straight from the farmer’s combine.

We invite you to try these healthy whole foods. And then, go to our recipe page, to try them out.

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Thought of the Week

“One of my greatest fears is that young people will lose interest in continuing one of the greatest American traditions:  feeding ourselves and feeding the world.”

-Howard G. Buffett, Ag. Advocate

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