FORT HALL, Idaho — Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members in Bonneville County reason the state doesn’t fund commodity groups, so it’s inappropriate that the governor has the final say in appointing their board members.
During the organization’s 78th Annual Meeting, scheduled for Dec. 5-7 at the Fort Hall Convention Center, Farm Bureau delegates from each county will vote on a resolution calling for growers to appoint their own commodity leaders, among several other proposed policy updates.
Farm Bureau prides itself in having policies that originate from a grass-roots level. Resolutions start as suggestions made during county meetings. They must also be endorsed at the district level and by the State Resolutions Committee before they can be ratified at the annual meeting by the House of Delegates, which includes two representatives from each county.
Farm Bureau spokesman John Thompson said other resolutions of interest pertain to the organization’s position on establishment of a Craters of the Moon National Park and to wheat discounts.
Thompson explained the organization already has a resolution opposing “any change to federal or state land designation where there is a potential to harm agriculture,” which was drafted in response to an effort to make a national park at Craters of the Moon National Monument. Thompson said Oneida County’s proposed resolution would “get right to the meat of it” and more directly specify, “We oppose Craters of the Moon becoming a national park.”
Clearwater and Lewis counties have proposed a resolution expressing Farm Bureau’s position that wheat shouldn’t be discounted at elevators below the feed price when it fails the low falling numbers test. The test measures starch degradation caused either by temperature fluctuations or pre-harvest sprouting.
The conference’s top award, called the President’s Cup, will be given this year to Dean and Shirlene Schwendimann, who raise row crops in Teton. Dean Schwendimann has been on the federation’s state board for two decades, and Shirlene has been active on the Women’s Committee.
“They’ve just really consistent volunteers,” Thompson said. “Whatever the organization has asked of them, they’ve done.”
A forum will also be hosted to answer members’ questions about a recent Idaho Supreme Court ruling regarding stockwater rights tied to grazing on federal allotments. Thompson explained the Supreme Court sided with Owyhee County ranchers Tim Lowery and Paul Middleton, who fought against the Bureau of Land Management attempting to hold ranchers’ stockwater rights — some of which predate the Homestead Act. The court agreed with the ranchers that the federal government can’t hold the water rights since it can’t put the water to beneficial use. Thompson said John Reese, a rancher who also works as a BLM range conservationist, has been invited to provide an agency perspective on the issue.
This spring, Thompson said the BLM prevented some ranchers with stockwater rights from making irrigation improvements, citing uncertainty about ramifications of last year’s Supreme Court ruling. Thompson said Farm Bureau met with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke late this summer, prompting him to instruct the state BLM to start issuing the stockwater rights. Thompson anticipates many ranchers will apply to have their water rights formalized this fall.