The new chairman of the Idaho Wheat Commission looks ahead to lower yields as dry weather continues to grip the region.
“Yields are expected to be down most every where,” said Rockland Valley farmer Cory Kress. “That’s probably going to put a strain on a lot of farmers financially. It weighs on everybody mentally, probably as bad as the financial aspect of it.”
The drought emphasizes the importance of a strong crop insurance program as the industry begins discussions on a new farm bill in Congress, he said. Funding for export programs is also critical.
“This next farm bill might be really interesting, with how we tie (in) conservation and what we do with things like carbon sequestration,” he said. “Those things might be a major part, which is going to be kind of new and unique from any of the past farm bills.”
Kress joined the commission in the 2020 fiscal year. He will serve as chairman for 2021-2022.
“I wouldn’t say I’m looking to radically change anything,” he said.
Instead, he hopes to continue the commission’s mission: making farmers more profitable through funding research, trade promotion and advocacy to legislators.
Kress welcomes feedback from growers.
He farms 9,000 acres and has been farming for himself 17 years.
His wife, Jamie, is president of the Idaho Grain Producers Association.
“The upside is we travel to the same places a lot,” Kress said. “It’s not taking us away from each other as much as it would be if it was just one or another.”
They have two children, Tyson, 16, and Hailey, 13.
Kress appreciates how in farming, unlike other jobs, he can see what he’s accomplished at the end of each day, whether cutting a field, seeding or a shop project.
“You put your time and effort and blood, sweat and tears into a crop, nurture it the best you can and watch it grow,” he said. “That’s probably why the drought is so disheartening, because you see daily your blood, sweat and tears just wither away.”