Farm Bureau backs pro-agriculture legislation

Sean Ellis

Capital Press

Lobbyists for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation plan to be involved in a host of legislative initiatives when the Legislature comes into session next month.

BOISE — When the 2014 Idaho legislative session convenes Jan. 6, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation lobbyists will be involved in several pieces of legislation that could benefit farmers and ranchers.

That includes a possible modification of state statutes to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to comply with the posting requirements of Idaho’s trespass laws.

Current Idaho law requires private property owners to post large signs with high-visibility paint at the beginning and ending of their property lines and every 660 feet in-between.

Farm bureau members would like to change the provision of state law that deals with farmers and ranchers whose property has limited access. In that case, they would only be required to post signs at the beginning and ending points of their property.

“If you have a large tract of grazing land or something like that and access only in one spot, there’s no point in requiring you to have a 100-square-inch sign with high-visibility paint every 660 feet,” said Dennis Tanikuni, IFBF’s assistant director of governmental affairs.

IFBF officials also plan to work with communications groups and scrap dealers on legislation designed to cut down on the number of metal thefts occurring on farms.

Metal thefts from farms and ranches can cause major collateral damage, Tanikuni said. “It may only be a few hundred dollars worth of metal but if you have to fly a motor in from the East Coast, it can cause thousands of dollars worth of crop damage if you can’t water your crops for several days,” he said. “It can be a big issue.”

Russ Hendricks, IFBF’s director of governmental affairs, said farm bureau expects to see and support a bill that would stop the indexing of Idaho’s homeowner’s exemption to rising or declining home prices.

The Idaho Tax Commission is required to recompute the homeowner’s exemption each year based on the average increase or decrease in housing prices across the state.

This indexing provision has pushed the exemption as high as $104,000 in previous years. It fell to $81,000 during the recession but is expected to rise to $83,000 this year.

The indexing provision is shifting taxes to agriculture and other businesses, Hendricks said.

Bob Geddes, who handles natural resources issues for IFBF, said he expects to see some legislation related to aquifer recharge emerge during the session.

“There’s really no one who disagrees with recharge,” he said. “The question is, how and where do we do it and how do … we reimburse those water rights holders?”

And IFBF, which represents almost 15,000 people actively engaged in agriculture, will use its clout to fight back any attempt to change Idaho’s open range law, which permits livestock to roam freely outside of cities and herd districts.

“There has been talk about possible changes to Idaho’s open range law this year,” Hendricks said. “We strongly oppose any change to (the) law.”



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