Roadside signs that identify many of the approximately 100 different crops grown in Canyon County, Idaho, are absent this year.
The joint agribusiness committee of the Caldwell and Nampa chambers of commerce suspended the program due to COVID-19 impacts, representatives said.
Since 2004, committee volunteers have placed the signs near farm fields along high-traffic roads as a form of agricultural education.
Canyon County has had a crop-sign program in one form or another since the early 1980s.
“It’s disappointing from the standpoint that we’ve always done this, and a lot of people appreciate that we do it,” said Darrell Bolz, a committee member who is a retired University of Idaho Canyon County Extension agent and former state legislator.
COVID-19 restrictions in March, April and May disrupted scheduled planning meetings as well as a new effort to involve FFA and 4-H members, said Stephen Parrott, a Nampa-based agricultural lender who chairs the committee. School closures affected the outreach to FFA and 4-H.
Members also expressed concern about social distancing — five or more teams of two usually spend a day driving the roads and placing signs, he said.
The committee works on agricultural promotion and education efforts including the Canyon County Farm Family of the Year recognition program, participation in a vocational agriculture advisory committee for a local high school and ag-related tours and events.
“The committee’s goal is to educate about and promote agriculture in Canyon County,” Parrott said.
He said the committee aims to involve FFA and 4-H in the crop-sign program next year. Committee Secretary Samantha Ball, UI Canyon County livestock and small-acreage extension educator, said the crop-sign program provides free information that is important and can pique further public interest.
“We try to hit as many crops as possible on the routes we cover,” Bolz said. Signs often are placed over the Memorial Day weekend, depending on weather.
The committee doesn’t have a sign for every crop grown in the county because some aren’t grown next to major roads and farmers’ crop selections vary from year to year, he said. And some of the signs don’t detail variations of the same crop, like corn grown for grain versus seed.
Parrott said the committee over the years has added signs for crops that were fairly new at the time, such as teff, turf grass and grapes.