Governor thanks members for help on ESA, other issues
By SEAN ELLIS
BOISE -- During Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's 73rd annual meeting, members were encouraged to not worry about the things they can't control, such as the weather, but spend their energy and effort on things they can impact.
IFBF President Frank Priestley said the group's members have so far done a pretty good job of that and highlighted a handful of successes this year, including victories in several environmental issues the group was involved in.
That included an Aug. 8 federal judge's ruling that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred in listing slickspot peppergrass, a native Idaho desert flower, as a threatened species.
Priestley hailed a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Idaho and Montana Farm Bureaus that affirmed wolf populations were recovered and no longer in need of federal protection.
He also singled out a March 21 U.S. Supreme Court decision that favored Mike and Chantell Sackett, a north Idaho couple who were ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency not to develop their private property in Bonner County due to Clean Water Act regulations.
"Endangered species issues will continue to be a challenge in western states," Priestley said during the Dec. 4-6 meeting.
Gov. Butch Otter thanked IFBF for its help on these issues and also for the group's support in helping the state find a long-term solution for the protection of sage grouse, which are a candidate for an Endangered Species Act listing.
With the national fiscal situation on the verge of leading to major cuts for federal agencies, he said those agencies could increasingly turn to states for help in managing natural resources and Farm Bureau could play a role.
"It's our opportunity to move into that management vacuum and hopefully take a leadership role," said Otter, a rancher. "We probably know more about it with everybody in this room than the entire federal government combined."
Priestley said IFBF members are doing a good job of tackling another challenge facing agriculture: public awareness about the food supply.
"We feel the best way to teach people about where food comes from and what it takes to get it from the field to the table is by hands-on experiences," he said.
He pointed out that 17 county Farm Bureaus held on-the-farm tours in 2012 featuring a wide array of commodities, including milk, cheese, buffalo jerky, trout, sturgeon and caviar.
He also applauded members for being active in the election process and pointed out 92 percent of candidates for state legislative races that were supported by IFBF's Agri-Pac group won their contests.
In addition, he said, 15 county Farm Bureaus held meet-the-candidates meetings, 15 presented "Friend of Agriculture" awards to legislators and 20 sponsored legislative report-back meetings.
"Electing the right people is very important, but we do more than just getting them elected. We work with them throughout the year," Priestley said.