Leaders worry about attempt to restrict oversize permits
By DAVE WILKINS
Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members will discuss a variety of issues ranging from wolves to renewable energy during the organization's 71st annual meeting Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 in Boise.
A leadership conference and workshops will cover agricultural market trends, crop management and water issues.
Presenters will include Clark Johnson of JC Management and William J. Meadows of Mountain States Oilseeds. They'll discuss management strategies and alternative crops that may fit into Idaho rotations.
Steven Aumeier, director of energy systems and technologies at the Idaho National Laboratory, will discuss nuclear energy research and future opportunities. He heads a division that deals with renewable energy, low-carbon fossil energy, advanced vehicles, industrial energy efficiency and hybrid energy systems.
Legislative issues of importance to Idaho farmers and ranchers will be discussed, and delegates will consider some new policy resolutions.
Delegates will vote on a proposed resolution that calls for gray wolves to be classified as a predator. Gray wolves were recently put back on the endangered species list after wildlife advocates successfully sued the government in federal court.
Farm Bureau members believe wolves should not be listed and that public hunts should be allowed to occur as they did last year.
There are now more than 1,700 wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon.
"We have far surpassed the biological goals of recovery, and yet they're back on the endangered species list," said John Thompson, director of public relations for the Idaho Farm Bureau.
Members of the organization will also vote on a resolution supporting the timely issuance of Idaho Transportation Department permits allowing oversize loads to transport oil refinery equipment on Highway 12 in Northern Idaho. Both ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips are seeking special permits to transport oil refinery equipment along the route to a refinery in Billings, Mont.
The shipments would take up two lanes of traffic and would only be permitted to move at night. Opponents are attempting to halt the permitting process, arguing that the shipments pose safety and environmental risks. If they're successful, it could set a bad precedent, Thompson said.
"If the permitting process (for oversize loads) becomes too burdensome, it could affect agriculture," he said. "These permits need to be issued in a timely manner."
The IFBF is a member of a newly formed coalition called Drive Our Economy that supports the shipments.
"Idaho farmers and businesses rely heavily on our roadways to move our products and to keep Idahoans employed," Pat Richardson, president of the Clearwater County Farm Bureau, said in a press release.
Environmental activists are using "scare tactics ... to drown out a productive discussion about what's best for Idaho and to effectively take this debate out of local hands," Richardson said.
For more information about the annual meeting visit the IFBF website at www.idahofb.org or call 208-239-4225.