John O’Connell

Eastern Idaho Reporter
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NRCS issues more disaster declarations as Idaho flooding spreads

- Idaho’s Portneuf, Boise and Humboldt rivers are now covered by flood warnings, and snowpacks exceeding 200 percent of normal still remain in some of the state’s mountains.

Peas take hold in East Idaho rotations

- A Northern Idaho green pea buyer has been buying from growers in Eastern Idaho, where the high elevation keeps damaging weevils at bay.

Private recharge group forms to resolve water dilemma

- Nine Eastern Idaho canal companies have formed a group to conduct managed aquifer recharge to benefit their local groundwater districts.

Industry support boosts Idaho spore sampling network

- The agricultural industry has contributed about $112,000 toward a program intended to give growers early warning when harmful spores arrive in the state.

Rain delays spud planting across E. Idaho

- Growers say they’re falling behind in planting their spring crops.

Western Innovator: Building a better canal system

- A hydrologist is developing a predictive model for the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Co.’s system to improve its efficiency.

IGWA districts exceed 2016 settlement reductions

- Idaho groundwater districts participating in water call settlement with the Surface Water Coalition have exceeded their goal of conserving 240,000 acre-feet of water in 2016.

NRCS offers flood-irrigation retention program

- The Idaho office of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is taking applications for a program aimed at helping farmers improve and retain their flood-irrigation programs.

New Idaho law allows use of surplus water without right

- Idaho has passed a law, amid a spring in which there’s been widespread flooding and water passing through the river system unallocated, to allow users to divert surplus water for certain purposes without a water right.

Conservation groups facilitate discussions in Wood River call

- Local conservation groups have taken a lead role in bringing irrigators together to discuss possible resolutions to a water call in Idaho’s Wood River Basin.

Magic Valley carving carrot seed niche

- A major carrot seed buyer is looking expand its presence in Idaho’s Magic Valley.

Sugar leader looks to spud industry’s example in facing critics

- A dietitian who heads the Sugar Association says her experience in defending potatoes from critics’ attacks will come in handy in improving perceptions about sugar.

Oregon plan to reintroduce fish above Hells Canyon Dam raises concerns in Idaho

- The State of Oregon wants to reintroduce threatened fish upstream of the Hells Canyon dams, but Idaho officials and irrigators don’t want to be stuck with the bill.

Idaho’s job growth causes farm labor crunch

- Idaho has led the nation in job growth for the past six months, and farmers say they’re having a harder time of finding seasonal workers.

Idaho to exceed 250,000 acre-feet in recharge

- Idaho water officials say their state will set a record by recharging more than 250,000 acre-feet of water this season, with nearly half of the volume coming from recharge sites in the Upper Snake River Basin.

Wet spring delivers benefits, challenges to growers

- Idaho growers should benefit from good crop development in wet soils, but they should also be wary of increased disease pressure and other moisture-related challenges, an expert says.

Potato Consortium awards $1.5 million in grants

- The potato commissions of Idaho, Washington and Oregon have awarded $1.5 million in research grants to 37 projects through their Northwest Potato Research Consortium.

Managers: Some Idaho reservoirs filling too fast for comfort

- Idaho water managers are concerned about rising water levels in Magic and Little Wood reservoirs.

Tiniest boy develops special relationship with big potato truck

- The Idaho Potato Commission’s Great Big Idaho Potato Truck will visit the world’s smallest boy in Virginia for a third consecutive year.

Potato chip brand capitalizes on rap music’s popularity

- An Atlanta businessman’s Rap Snacks line of potato chips has tapped into the soulful side of spuds.

Study shows high nitrogen efficiency in barley

- Idaho barley growers who follow University of Idaho’s planting recommendations can expect to have high nitrogen-use efficiency and little trouble with nitrogen leaching, according to a new study.

Idaho, Washington growers respond to Japanese food barley demand

- Regional businessmen involved in supplying food barley say demand is up considerably this season due to increasing interest among the Japanese in blending it with rice.

Potato Parcels pays PR dividends for spud industry

- Potato industry leaders say they’ve benefited from free exposure through a business that mails personalized messages and images on Idaho russet potatoes.

Bonneville County farmers, ranchers form fire association

- A group of Bonneville County farmers and ranchers is undergoing training to start a rural fire protection association.

Flooding overwhelms North Idaho drainage districts

- Farmers in North Idaho’s Kootenai Valley say they can’t pump water off their fields fast enough to keep pace with flooding.

Legislature approves $300 million for highway projects

- Idaho lawmakers have approved a bill authorizing $300 million in bonds for improvements to major transportation arteries — likely including the widening of a crucial agricultural transportation corridor on Interstate...

Five inducted into Eastern Idaho Ag Hall of Fame

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

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.