John O’Connell

Eastern Idaho Reporter
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Five inducted into Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame

- Five leaders were selected for inclusion into the Eastern Idaho Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Plans to widen Idaho ag corridor suffer setback

- The Idaho Senate has rejected a bill to approve $300 million in bonds for improvements to major transportation arteries — likely including the widening of a crucial agricultural transportation corridor on Interstate ...

East Idaho canal companies challenge water district accounting practice

- Five Eastern Idaho canal companies have sent a letter to Water District 1 challenging its practice of deducting downstream river losses to seepage against upstream natural flow rights.

New FDA nutrition label pleases potato industry

- Officials with Potatoes USA say the addition of potassium to food nutrition facts labels should benefit their commodity.

Idaho quinoa buyer outgrowing processing facility

- Eastern Idaho quinoa buyer Jeremiah Clark has signed a major contract to sell his specialty grain and now anticipates needing a much larger processing facility.

ISDA head concerned about invasive species bill

- Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould supports a significant increase in state funding to keep invasive species out of Idaho waters.

UI Extension experts see improvement in local forage market

- University of Idaho Extension experts have estimated the cost of producing a ton of alfalfa in Idaho ranged from $135 to $146 during 2016, and the average price for alfalfa should finish 2017 at about $144 per ton.

Ag group aims to start Eastern Idaho virtual farmers’ market

- A coalition of agricultural organizations and other entities that support efforts to improve the local economy, based in Driggs, Idaho, is seeking to start a virtual farmers market serving a four-county area.

Fresh domestic spud sales make gains

- Potato industry leaders are pleased by a rare increase in fresh potato sales reported during December.

Idaho allows users to exceed recharge water rights

- About 15,000 cubic feet per second of water is now being released below Milner Dam in Idaho’s Snake River Reservoir system, prompting the state to allow holders of recharge water rights to exceed their upper limits.

Wet weather delaying planting in much of Idaho

- Idaho farmers from Twin Falls through Eastern Idaho anticipate delays in planting spring crops, near the end of a cold and wet winter.

Idaho governor requests federal disaster declarations for flooded farms

- Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is pursuing federal disaster declarations to help farmers, ranchers and dairymen in 10 counties, as well as in adjacent counties.

Abundant February snow covers all of Idaho

- The entire state of Idaho recorded above-average snowpack during February, enabling the state to commence with an experiment in conducting managed aquifer recharge with flood-control releases in the Upper Snake River Basin.

Thresher Wheat focuses on food safety, grower returns

- Thresher Artisan Wheat has completed food safety improvements and obtained new food safety certifications for its Blackfoot plant, and also has some new services to help growers.

East Idaho hay farmers lose sleep over jackrabbits

- Jackrabbits have damaged hay stacks in Eastern Idaho.

Monsanto starting sage grouse research at corporate ranch

- Officials with Monsanto plan to start researching sage grouse habitat restoration at their corporate ranch in the phosphate patch of Caribou County, helping to mitigate for disturbance in sage grouse habitat by the company&...

Idaho developing sage grouse mitigation credit program

- Idaho’s credits would be sold directly from the state to an interested buyer, to mitigate for development in sage grouse habitat.

Water districts close on Rangen trout farm purchase

- The purchase of the Rangen, Inc., trout farm, ends the obligation of Idaho groundwater districts to provide water to the Hagerman facility to mitigate for a water call.

Amalgamated raising funds toward GMO education campaign

- Sugar company has raised $16 million to educate the public about the benefits of biotechnology.

Idaho proposes license fee to cover ag wildlife losses

- The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering a new fee to compensate farmers for losses to wildlife, or to help them prevent depredation.

Environmental group appeals Gateway West line

- Western Watersheds, based in Hailey, Idaho, has appealed the approved route of a section of the planned Gateway West Transmission Line, which provides an obstacle to a project that’s unpopular with farmers in its pat...

Potato cooperative sues attorneys after antitrust settlements

- A Salt Lake City-based potato cooperative and affiliated companies have filed a lawsuit against their former attorney, alleging poor legal advice led to antitrust lawsuit settlements.

New president joins Idaho Grower Shippers Association

- Shawn Boyle, a licensed attorney who was raised in Shelley, Idaho, has become the new president of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association.

200 Bushel Club studies companion crops

- An organization devoted to boosting Eastern Idaho wheat yields has publicized results of trials analyzing fertilizer placement and the use of so-called companion crops to boost yields.

Idaho irrigators back bills fighting Oregon fish plan

- The Idaho Water Users Association has drafted four bills positioning Idaho to fight an effort by the State of Oregon to force the reintroduction of endangered fish in the Snake River upstream of the Hells Canyon Complex of ...

Irrigation managers rush to save property from flooding

- Idaho irrigation and emergency managers are busy trying to protect property from overflowing streams and canals.

Bill seeks to end ‘duplicative’ pesticide permits

- Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo has introduced legislation to end a requirement that pesticide applications over or in waterways be permitted by the federal Clean Water Act.

Flooding raises Idaho crop disease concerns

- Idaho crop experts caution waterlogged grain could be at a heightened risk of diseases, including pythium, which appears to be developing resistance to treatments in southeast Idaho.

Strong Idaho snowpack triggers cloud seeding suspension

- Idaho Power Co. has suspended its cloud seeding, already having an ample mountain snowpack.

Potato breeders fry hundreds of experimental lines in trial

- The University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center smells like a fast-food restaurant for a couple of weeks each winter while researchers evaluate the color of fries resulting from their experimental li...

UI to grow nuclear potato seed program

- University of Idaho has hired a new director and a promoted a worker to be a full-time greenhouse manager for its nuclear seed potato program, and intends to invest in new infrastructure.

Idaho cattle grant helps Mackay school start ranch

- Students at Mackay Junior-Senior High School in Idaho have started their own ranch to learn about animal husbandry.

Idaho Grain Producers offering discount to build membership

- The Idaho Grain Producers Association is offering a discounted membership rate to attract new members so more of the industry will understand its efforts on behalf of growers.

Report shows significant drop in Idaho spud costs

- A University of Idaho economist has estimated Idaho potato farmers saw their production costs drop from 5.5 percent to 8.5 percent, depending on their region and whether or not they use fumigation.

Some Idaho basins already approaching normal winter snow peak

- With 40 percent of winter remaining, some basins in Southern Idaho are already nearing their normal peak snowpack levels.

Idaho potato industry makes progress against diseases

- The Idaho Crop Improvement Association has zero tolerance for ring rot, rejecting any seed lots in which the disease is found.

New Northwest spuds offer strong disease resistance

- Two potatoes that will be released by the Tri-State Potato Breeding Program in the Northwest should help growers cope with losses of effective fumigants, due to their strong resistance to diseases.

Chip brand finds higher purpose for off-grade spuds

- A Pennsylvania company has created an Uglies brand of chips using rejected potatoes.

Spore samplers give farmers an early warning system against crop diseases

- Plans are in the works to use spore samplers for early detection of diseases attacking potatoes, barley, wheat, sugar beets, beans, onions, oilseeds, grapes and hops.

Potato growers prepare for new sustainability audit

- A new audit that potato growers some growers will complete this season seeks to provide a common standard for sustainability.

College of Southern Idaho mulls trout farm purchase from state

- The College of Southern Idaho may purchase the former Pristine Springs fish facility in Jerome, which could help CSI expand its agriculture programs with the property in the long term.

New advisory panel generates industry support for potato research priorities

- The potato industry has formed a committee to identify research priorities and generate support for related projects.

Crop advisors gain certification in sustainability

- An entity that certifies crop advisors has big hopes for a new certification to help farmers meet customers’ sustainability requirements.

Western Innovator: Variable rates boost crops

- Ryan Christensen of Grace, Idaho, has installed variable-rate irrigation on his family’s farm and taken a different approach to developing prescription maps.