“The food you eat is a direct connection to the land on which it was grown and the people who grew it.”
–John Chandler, Farmer
–John Chandler, Farmer
3.There are approximately 602,000 milk producing cows in Idaho.
5.In 2017, Idaho’s dairy industry supported 39,400 jobs.
6.Idaho’s top dairy export destinations include Mexico, Korea , China and Japan.
7.Idaho produced more than 14.6 billion pounds of milk in 2017.
9. 85 to 90% of Idaho’s on-dairy jobs are filled with foreign born labor.
Are you concerned with where your beef, pork and dairy products come from? Well, this is your opportunity to let your voice be heard! An online petition, in support of MCOOL (mandatory country of origin labeling), is aiming for 500,000 signatures in order for it to go before our president and Congress. It already has gained 250,000 signatures in just the past 7 days.
Much of our meat comes from other countries – Canada, South America, Africa, New Zealand. In fact, in the past three weeks, U.S. meatpackers sourced over 12,000 head of beef from Canada! Meatpackers are bringing in foreign cattle, and U.S. ranchers are being denied access to markets due to processing plant slowdowns and shutdowns.
Finally, there is an online petition, asking our President Trump and Congress to immediately pass MCOOL for beef, pork and dairy products, in order to strengthen national food security in response to Covid 19.
MCOOL would put the choice in consumers’ hands of where they want their beef to be born, raised and harvested. It would help them avoid imported beef, pork and dairy products, produced in foreign countries with ongoing disease problems, like Brazil and Namibia, Africa, both known to harbor foot-and-mouth disease.
R-CALF, the group organizing this effort, is made up of producers and ranchers across the U.S.
The petition can be found at: http://www.DemandUSABeef.com.
-Capital Press, May 8, 2020
Have you ever heard of sponges as a crop? Did you know that any of the above spellings are correct?
Nathan and Sherri Pauls of Reedley, California, fell into the luffa sponge business about 8 years ago. They own and operate Luffa Gardens, a sponge growing operation. One of Sherri’s 1st grade students gave her the gift of a large, ugly, cucumber shaped gourd. “I threw it into a storage bin and forgot about it, said Nathan. “Two years later I ran across it, and thought there was some reason she gave it to Sherri as a gift.”
“I could hear seeds rattle when I shook it, so I decided to open the thing and plant them,” he said. “It was a complete surprise when the plant grew to 30 feet, began to bloom and started putting out little cucumber like objects. The first plant produced 20 sponges.”
Pauls peeled away the outer skin of the brown, ripe “cucumber,” then washed and dried it to reveal plant fiber. They discovered the natural sponge was easier on the skin and lasted longer than commercially produced sponges.
“The second year, I grew 200 plants in different soils,’ he said. “The third year, I had 1,500 plants. A local television station featured us, and we enjoyed a huge bump in sales. I worked 14 hour days filling orders.”
Today, the farm grows 2,500 plants with plans to expand, including a greenhouse. Loofah plants, which can grow up to 40′ in each direction, are subtropical so at the slightest hint of frosty weather, they turn dry, crispy and die. With that harvest deadline, planting begins around the first of April and harvest starts the end of July and lasts until September.
Luffa Gardens does a large portion of its business online. They feature organic, natural sponges of all sizes and handmade goats milk moisturizing soap, with such names as Snickerdoodle, Cream Cheese, English Rose, Lavender and Orange Peel.
Pauls says that when he makes his soap, he inserts a sponge into the top layer of the soap as it is curing.
It is inspiring to learn of farmers finding an unusual, needed, niche crop to grow. Buy luffas! Or is it loofas? Or did you say loofahs?
If you live in the west, specifically the Pacific Northwest, you may have heard of the ongoing discussion about removing the four dams on the Lower Snake River. This has been going on for decades. The dams enable barging of millions of dollars in crops from farmlands in Idaho, Oregon and Washington headed for Portland. They also provide vast amounts of hydro-electric power, thousands of jobs and reduce the over-use of our highway and rail systems.
However, the dams have caused a reduction in salmon runs, to the consternation of environmental groups. In recent years, due to major efforts of fish and wildlife groups as well as the federal government, salmon and steelhead have increased and been more stable than in past decades.
A report was recently released which was commissioned by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Bonneville Power Administration and the Bureau of Reclamation. The feds agree that removing the dams on the Lower Snake River would be a mistake, would hurt our economy, the environment and farmers. Breaching the dams on the Columbia-Snake River System would cost our nation $2.3 billion.
The dams in southeast Washington allow farmers to move grain by barge down the Columbia River’s main tributary. Without the dams, the river would be too shallow to barge wheat and other farm commodities the roughly 100 miles between Lewiston, Idaho and the Tri-Cities, Washington, and removing the dams would negatively impact the environment.
Wheat is the No. 1 crop in the Pacific Northwest, in terms of total acres planted, and the Columbia-Snake River System is the top wheat export gateway in the United States. About 58% of our nation’s export wheat goes through the river system. The system is No. 2 for corn and soybeans, and is the No. 1 gateway for West Coast wood and auto exports. Dam breaching would likely increase grain transportation and storage expenses by 50-100%, and put more than 1,100 farms at risk of failure in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Additionally, and equally important, the energy created by the dams is enough to electrify 800,000 homes in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Lost hydroelectric power could be replaced by more natural gas-generated electricity, but that would increase the emissions of power-related greenhouse gasses by 10% in the Northwest, make the region more vulnerable to power blackouts, and would cost about $1 billion per year, or 1/3 of Bonneville Power Administration’s revenues.
60% of the region’s electric power is produced by the dams. “If Bonneville had to replace the lower Snake River project’s full capability with zero-carbon resources, the rate pressure could be up to 50% on wholesale power rates,” the report states.
Removing the dams would increase transportation-related greenhouse gases, as trucks and trains replace barges. Greenhouse gases from transporting wheat would increase by 53% or 1.3 million Tons per year. This is equivalent to adding 181,889 passenger cars to our roads or 90,365 homes. It would take 35,000 rail car or 135,000 semi trucks to move all that cargo. Diesel consumption would increase by almost 5,000,000 gallons per year, because barges would be replaced by less efficient truck-to-rail shipments. Increased reliance on truck-to-rail shipments would result in an additional 24,000,000 miles of travel per year on county, state and federal roads.
Barging is the cleanest, most efficient way of moving all that high-quality U.S. wheat overseas, said Pacific Northwest Waterways Association Executive Director, Kristin Meira.
Breaching the dams would likely have long term benefits to fish in the Snake River because of improved rearing and migration conditions. Estimating the number of fish that would survive and return to spawn is difficult because of the uncertainty of ocean survival, says the report.
The report’s “preferred alternative” on operating the system includes modifying some fish passage structures. Also, spilling more water over the dams would benefit endangered runs of salmon and steelhead in the Lower Columbia and Snake Rivers.
“It boggles my mind that breaching the dams is even a consideration,” said Idaho Wheat Growers Executive Director, Blaine Jacobson.
He sums it up beautifully.
-Capital Press, March 6, 2020
-Farm Bureau Quarterly, March-April, 2020
-Julie Borlaug, Global Anti-hunger Advocate
-$26.4 billion in total sales, or 18% of Idaho’s total economic output
-$9.6 billion in value added, or 13% of total Idaho GSP
-123,100 jobs, or one in every eight jobs in the state
-$4.2 billion in wages, or $1.00 of every $9.00 of wages paid in Idaho
Idaho’s 24,996 farms and ranches (average farm size of 468 acres), produce 185 commodities.
FARMS BY SIZE:
1 to 49 acres 14,010
50 to 179 acres 4,161
180 to 499 acres 2,786
500 to 999 acres 1,606
1,000 plus acres 2,433
CASH RECEIPTS: $7.6 billion
plus: another $8.4 billion in processed food and beverage sales
COUNTIES WITH OVER $100 MILLION IN AG. RECEIPTS:
Cassia: $927 million
Gooding: $783 million
Twin Falls: $680 million
Jerome: $640 million
Canyon: $575 million
Bingham $453 million
Elmore: $430 million
Minidoka: $354 million
Jefferson: $295 million
Owyhee: $273 million
Power: $235 million
Lincoln: $203 million
Bonneville: $168 million
Fremont: $138 million
Payette: $167 million
Madison: $157 million
Ada: $132 million