John O’Connell

Eastern Idaho Reporter
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Idaho, Washington wheat growers seek emergency label for wireworm product


BOISE — Idaho and Washington grain growers hope to obtain a special-needs exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency allowing them to use an insecticide labeled for potatoes to protect wheat from wireworms...

Spud growers join Boise schools’ Potato Celebration Week


BOISE — The Boise School District’s new Potato Celebration Week enabled Rod Lake of Heyburn-based Southwind Farms to get his company’s fingerling potatoes into a public schools market he’s bee...

Commodity groups seek freedom of information exemption for checkoff boards


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Several agricultural organizations have gotten language included in the pending fiscal year 2017 House Agricultural Appropriations Bill asking USDA to exempt research and promotion boards funded...

Idaho Power offers safety warning after ag accident


MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — Officials with Idaho Power are reminding farm workers to use caution while working around overhead power lines in the wake of an April 18 accident that seriously injured a 31-year-old woman....

Trials evaluate cereal cyst nematode resistance


Capital Press

ABERDEEN, Idaho — Aside from diversifying their crop rotations, Pooria Ensafi believes selecting resistant varieties is the best way for the region’s grain growers to protect their crops...

ISDA Japanese beetle treatment area cut in half


Capital Press

BOISE — An Idaho State Department of Agriculture Japanese beetle eradication program has reduced the Ada County population of the invasive pest by nearly 90 percent, and the agency plans to cut...

Diminishing supply fails to lift Idaho spud prices


ABERDEEN, Idaho — Idaho potato farmers say favorable weather conditions have helped them get an early start to planting their 2016 crop.

They’re becoming concerned, however, that prices of their 2015 ...

Potatoes USA hires global retail marketing manager


DENVER — Potatoes USA has hired a former ConAgra Foods official to oversee its effort to bolster retail potato sales domestically and abroad.

Ross Johnson, 34, the former national account manager with ConAgr...

Potato truck may roll indefinitely


EAGLE, Idaho — Basketball star Kobe Bryant had the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck on his mind during one of the final games of his storied career, a sign to the Idaho Potato Commission that their traveling promotion...

Unprotected junior Idaho well users face curtailment


BOISE — Amid a decent water year, several Idaho irrigation wells will nonetheless likely be curtailed this summer, according to officials with the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

At risk are Eastern Sna...

Dryland wheat off to a good start in Eastern Idaho


Soil moisture was ideal when Kendall Jones planted his dryland wheat last fall, and the Raft River, Idaho, farmer believes spring showers have further helped the crop progress.

“My dad was saying, ‘We...

APHIS proposes PCN program revisions


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — USDA has proposed restricting the use of the powerful fumigant methyl bromide for eradicating pale cyst nematodes in Eastern Idaho, and acknowledging the potential of a plant that stimulates &...

Idaho growers propose irrigation and recharge pipeline


RAFT RIVER, Idaho — Nine irrigators who draw from the declining Raft River aquifer have proposed building an 11-mile pipeline, planning to switch fields to surface water when it’s available for lease and to...

Southern Idaho grower raising hay with buried drip


RAFT RIVER, Idaho — Farmer Todd Garrett believes water has become a precious enough commodity in southeast Idaho to justify his investment in costly buried drip irrigation at a commercial scale.

On April 15...

Idaho drafts water sustainability plan


ST. ANTHONY, Idaho — A subcommittee of the Idaho Water Resource Board has completed a draft sustainability plan, offering guidance to preserve the state’s water supply.

Pending approval by the full bo...

State falls short of recharge goal, but develops new infrastructure


RIRIE, Idaho — An Idaho Department of Water Resources official said the state failed to meet last winter’s volume in its recently concluded Snake River managed aquifer recharge program, and fell well short ...

Aberdeen Plant Materials Center to start cover crop research


ABERDEEN, Idaho — The local Plant Materials Center, run by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, is in the process of hiring an agronomist who will be tasked with conducting cover crop and soil...

Employees help Bingham Coop transform workplace safety

- Bingham Cooperative has solicited ideas from employees that have helped transform its safety culture.

Child’s remains from 1981 tragedy found in Eastern Idaho canal

- Upper Snake River flows were briefly reduced to facilitate the search for human remains in Eastern Idaho's Great Feeder Canal.

Wet March means favorable Idaho irrigation outlook

- A wet and cool March has maintained a strong water outlook for Idaho irrigators this summer.

IGWA, tribes reach long-term water lease agreement

- Idaho Ground Water Appropriators Inc. has reached a five-year agreement with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to lease 45,000 acre-feet of water to fulfill a long-term mitigation obligation to the Surface Water Coalition.

Idaho city forcibly annexes food processor

- The City of Blackfoot has forcibly annexed 17 acres that include Basic American Foods facilities.

Mussel threat spurs plans to block boats from reservoirs

- Irrigation reservoirs in Franklin County that are popular with anglers will likely be closed to boats this season, following a decision by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture that pilot program, reservoir-specific che...

New irrigation method catching on in West

- The Idaho Falls office of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is offering grants to help farmers convert pivots to an experimental configuration that's proven to conserve water and reduce electricity use.

Corn acres up in Northwest as farmers seek better return

- Growers in Idaho and nationwide say they plan to plant a lot more corn, according to a recent USDA report.

ISDA defends organic program in light of fraud case

- Officials involved with Idaho's organic program say it has many safeguards to prevent fraud, in the wake of a federal court guilty plea involving a Bliss, Idaho, farmer who made more than $7 million in sales of conventional...

Growers turn to owls for vole control

- A Canyon County program is helping farmers protect their fields from voles and gophers with owl boxes.

Curly top resistance confirmed in breeding beet

- A new doubled haploid sugar beet line developed by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Kimberly, Idaho, as a breeding cultivar has the best resistance to curly top virus ever tested.

UI economists question buy-local movement

- University of Idaho economists who have run modeling analysis on the local foods movement believe allowing growing regions to specialize and trade with other regions to broaden food variety may be the most economical approa...

Idaho farmer pleads guilty in organic fraud case

- A Bliss farmer has pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulently labeling seed as organic.

Idaho cities submit water call mitigation plan

- A group of cities drawing water from the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer has reached an agreement with the Surface Water Coalition on broad concepts to mitigate for their impacts on declining groundwater levels.

Idaho Supreme Court water ruling supports Rangen trim line

- A Idaho Supreme Court decision in the Rangen water call reaffirms the importance of maximizing the beneficial use of Idaho water.

Amalgamated marketing partnership expands

- Officials with Amalgamated Sugar Co. expect to save money on their supply chain thanks to a new business partnership.

Amalgamated hires communications specialist

- Amalgmated Sugar Co. has hired a communications specialist, who will assist with community outreach and help boost the company's social media presence.

First Amalgamated grower becomes ASGA president

- Galen Lee, of New Plymouth, Idaho, is the first Amalgamated Sugar grower to serve as president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.

Canada deregulates Simplot’s GMO spud

- Canada has deregulated J.R. Simplot's Innate line of genetically engineered potatoes.

Researcher says barley growers could cut water use

- New research by University of Idaho Extension barley agronomist Chris Rogers could help malt barley growers conserve water and nitrogen.

Drones catching on in Northwest agriculture

- An Idaho farmer who helps run a company that assesses farm fields using drones sees significant growth in drone use for agriculture in the second season in which drones will be available as a commercial service for growers.

Potatoes USA research programs evolving

- Potatoes USA and the major potato processors have cut funding to the Alliance for Potato Research and Education.

Idaho ag leaders wary about possible state land purchases

- The Idaho Land Board's consideration of buying agricultural land with proceeds from the sales of its residential and commercial properties has some agricultural officials concerned.

Cloud-based management could be next ag craze

- A California software company official anticipates cloud-based agricultural management software will represent that next major technological improvement that save producers money and change the way they do business.

USPB changes name to Potatoes USA

- The U.S. Potato Board will start doing business under a new name.

Idaho grain growers brace for yellow dwarf problems

- A University of Idaho cereal crop pathologist says growers from throughout Southern and Eastern Idaho have been sending her samples of winter wheat infected with barley yellow dwarf virus recently, and she warns growers to ...

Groundwater users propose improving CREP to help meet agreement

- Idaho groundwater users hope to improve a longstanding land-retirement program to use as a tool toward meeting a reduction in their consumption required under the terms of an agreement addressing the Surface Water Coalition...

Post Falls farmer to sell automated tractors

- A Post Falls, Idaho, seed potato farmer has started a company that will deliver the first driverless tractors to Idaho fields this summer.

Idaho snowpack ripe after dry, warm February

- The mountain snowpack throughout much of Idaho has "ripened" about a month ahead of schedule, officials say.

U.S. potato product exports see growth

- After a year of slumping, potato exports are mostly headed back in the right direction, according to officials with U.S. Potato Board.

Got Milk? architect describes campaign’s lasting mark on marketing

- One of the architects of the popular Got Milk? campaign said it's had lasting effects on marketing and has taught the industry lessons for the future.

High stakes of social responsibility

- The growing trend toward corporate social responsibility is leading to new burdens for food producers —often regardless of whether or not they're economical or truly beneficial.

OSHA plans surprise agricultural inspections in Idaho

- The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration plans to soon implement random inspections of Idaho agricultural operations for worker safety violations, based on concerns about recent workplace fatalities.