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Online tool will help farmers track costs


Workshop on marketing program will be held at IFBF's annual meeting


By SEAN ELLIS


Capital Press


BOISE -- A new online marketing tool designed to help Idaho farmers improve their bottom line will be unveiled during Idaho Farm Bureau Federation's 73rd annual meeting.


The meeting, Dec. 4-6 in Boise, will attract dozens of producers who are voting delegates from the general farm organization's 38 county Farm Bureaus.


A highlight of the meeting will be the launch of an Internet-based marketing tool that will allow farmers to track their cost of production and manage risks.


"Those people who know about it are very excited about it," said IFBF spokesman John Thompson.


After farmers enter their anticipated crop acreages and expected inputs, the program will calculate the cost of production and projects whether the farm will make a profit. If not, the program will help them fix whatever is wrong, Thompson said.


The program will provide farmers a summary sheet showing what price they need to sell their product to meet their margin goals, and it will also provide a special report that farmers can take to their banker.


"It really gives producers a good idea of exactly where they're at," Clark Johnston of J.C. Management, which is helping IFBF develop the program, said.


Johnston, who will lead a workshop on the new tool during the meeting, said it can be used for a variety of crops, including potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, barley, grain and sweet corn and alfalfa.


Convention delegates will consider a number of policy issues.


Thompson said proposed policies dealing with wolves are expected to be heavily debated during the policy development portion of the meeting. That includes a proposal to increase the brand inspection fee and use the extra money to control problem wolves and another one requiring wolf carcasses brought in by hunters to be tested for a tapeworm parasite that can be transmitted to livestock and elk.


Delegates will also debate a proposal to allow landowners to sell hunting tags for elk and deer. Some Idaho landowners receive so-called landowner appreciation tags because their property provides important habitat for wildlife. A bill that would have allowed them to sell these tags died in the Idaho Legislature this year.


Thompson said Farm Bureau believes landowners should have the right to sell these tags "since they are feeding elk and deer for significant periods of the year in many cases. They eat a lot of haystacks and crops grown during the season."


The meeting will include a workshop on how to interact with local media. Thompson said Farm Bureau members have asked the group to help them better connect with their local newspapers.


County Farm Bureaus do a lot of things that benefit their local communities, he said, "and they want to learn more about how to interact with their local media and get more of their activities publicized."



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