John O’Connell

Eastern Idaho Reporter
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Idaho seeks growers’ input on pollinator plan

- The Idaho State Department of Agriculture is soliciting input from agricultural organizations and other interest groups to help draft a statewide pollinator protection plan.

East Idaho farmers help protect neighbors from wildfire

- Farmers and ranchers in the Idaho Falls area have played a crucial role in helping fire crews protect property from the large Henry's Creek fire in Eastern Idaho.

Potato truck takes to Hudson River during New York visit

- The Great Big Idaho Potato Truck floated past the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline as part of a photo opportunity organized by the Idaho Potato Commission.

Idaho contract ag labor licenses up

- The Idaho Department of Labor reports a dip in the unemployment rate and increasing numbers of contract farm labor providers getting licensed.

Idaho growers pleased with spud yields, quality

- Idaho growers are pleased by the size and quality of their spuds as harvest starts, but University of Idaho officials warn them not to stop spraying for potato psyllids until their vines are killed, based on the discovery o...

Potato council commissions food safety software for sheds

- The National Potato Council has hired a consultant to develop software and a smartphone app to help potato packing facilities meet forthcoming federal food safety regulations.

Idaho quinoa growers get encouraging news in second season

- Quinoa harvest has started in Eastern Idaho, and the buyer of the high-protein, gluten-free grain is pleased with yields and profitability for his growers.

Researcher studies soil health as climate change coping strategy

- A climate researcher with the Union of Concerned Scientists sees an opportunity for farmers to fight climate change by improving their soil health and keeping grassland intact.

Idaho to use wildfire project as disaster-response template

- An Idaho pilot project aimed at assessing safety hazards following large wildfires and coordinating both fire prevention and recovery efforts on public and private land is nearing completion.

Senators optimistic about wildfire funding bill

- Three U.S. senators are backing a bill to fund suppression efforts for catastrophic wildfires as natural disasters, freeing funding for prevention efforts.

Tribes concerned about farm impacts on water

- The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Eastern Idaho are planning measures to improve water quality, some of which could affect farmers who lease their land.

East Idaho fairgoers prove their ag knowledge

- The Bannock County Farm Bureau Women's Committee hosted an agricultural trivia competition to demonstrate agriculture's diversity to those in attendance at the Bannock County Fair.

Western Innovator: Former trout hatchery provides cash crop

- An Eastern Idaho businessman has a large fish hatchery at his disposal, but rather than producing trout, he mines the fish excrement as a key ingredient for a biological fertilizer he manufactures.

Once strong Snake Plain water outlook deteriorating

- Water managers are growing concerned after starting the irrigation season with a strong water outlook for Idaho's Eastern Snake Plain.

Crop, pasture land prices increase in Northwest, California

- Crop land values have continued to increase in 2016 in Idaho and the Pacific Coastal states, despite dropping nationwide.

Restrictions mulled for ESPA tributary wells

- The Idaho Department of Water Resources is considering the establishment of a groundwater management area, which could force additional irrigators in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer or its tributaries to take actions to sta...

Lightning-sparked wildfires take hold in Idaho

- Several wildfires are burning throughout Idaho.

Idaho growers expect record beet yield, high-quality spuds

- Idaho growers anticipate strong sugar beet and potato crops.

Potato research entity turns to clinical studies

- The Alliance for Potato Research and Education intends to shift its focus toward conducting clinical research rather than epidemiological studies.

Growers wary of precedent set by insecticide ruling

- An Environmental Protection Agency review board has ruled EPA had the authority to remove Bayer's insecticide Belt from the market based on concerns about potential impacts to aquatic life.

Idaho organic dairies growing rapidly

- Idaho has experienced strong growth in the organic dairy sector recently, causing some to worry that the market may be nearing a saturation point.

Hair sheep gaining popularity with U.S. producers

- Sheep ranchers are increasingly turning to hair sheep, which don't require sheering, as a means of cutting back on labor.

Farmers’ market vendors partner in mall store

- A store in the Pine Ridge Mall in Chubbuck, Idaho, provides residents of the Pocatello area access to farmers' market goods every day of the year.

UI seeks partnership with Peru potato center

- The University of Idaho is seeking to partner with the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru, which has a large repository of potato breeding material, as well as world-class expertise.

East Idaho grower finds niche with spelt

- A Rexburg, Idaho, grower raises spelt in his unique rotation.

Idaho growers reporting strong wheat harvest

- Idaho wheat farmers say they're harvesting a decent crop near the start of the 2016 winter wheat harvest.

North Idaho growers open flour mill

- A North Idaho grain farmer and his wife, who recently retired from teaching, have opened a grain mill to directly market some of their crops.

Company’s gene-editing pipeline full of Northwest crops

- Potato and wheat growers will be among the first to benefit from a new breeding technology that quickly and cheaply introduces desirable traits without being considered genetic modification.

Potato researcher warns of new disease threat

- Some growers in Idaho are concerned about a bacterial disease of potatoes long found in Europe, called dickeya, that is now spreading throughout the U.S.

Busch touts SmartBarley program

- Idaho barley growers are participating in a worldwide program that allows them to compare their production practices with other growers to assess opportunities for improvement.

New commissioner specializes in growing food barley

- The Idaho Barley Commission has appointed a new commissioner to represent Northern Idaho.

Interior bill lays groundwork for addressing Western issues

- Agricultural interests representing key commodities across the Northwest say the Interior funding bill that recently passed the U.S. House has several provisions that they support.

Simplot plans GMO-only seed potato farms

- J.R. Simplot Co. hopes to work with farmers willing to raise no other potatoes aside from the company's Innate line of biotech seed on their seed farms.

GMO spud sponsors Boise Olympic cyclist

- Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, of Boise, is likely the first athlete ever sponsored by a GMO crop.

Ag opponents plan attacks on water, climate issues

- An official who tracks issues in agriculture says organizations that oppose conventional farming are upping their spending, working together and coalescing their attacks on water and climate.

Potato, sugar leaders laud GMO labeling bill

- Potato leaders say the GMO labeling bill that has passed Congress is a good compromise.

Progress made on accessing U.S. potato markets

- The U.S. potato industry has made headway in its efforts to access some key foreign markets.

Grant pays for potato shipping study

- Specialty crop block grants have been awarded to three potato projects, including a new Idaho Potato Commission project to improve conditions for fresh potato shipments heading abroad.

Grasshoppers cause damage in southeast Idaho

- Grasshoppers are causing damage in southeast Idaho crops, and growers in other areas of the state are keeping an eye on the pests as populations build.

IDWR order requires well monitors in Snake Plain

- The Idaho Department of Water Resources has issued an order requiring Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer well users to install water meters to better monitor their usage.

Reports show slight spud acreage reduction

- Potato acreage is down slightly in both the U.S. and Idaho, but industry sources caution a return to normal yields would increase the harvested tonnage.

First potato psyllids arrive in Eastern Idaho

- Potato psyllids, which spread zebra chip disease, have been captured in Eastern Idaho potato fields.