Agenda includes extension, CAFO jurisdiction, sheep grazing

By DAVE WILKINS

Capital Press

Extension funding, livestock regulations and conflicts between wild and domestic sheep are among the issues to be discussed during the 70th annual meeting of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.

A recommendation that the state increase funding to the University of Idaho College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is one of several new resolutions that will be considered during the Dec. 1-3 gathering in Idaho Falls.

Another resolution supports the hiring of UI Extension educators who have broad experience in commercial agriculture and forestry.

Many UI Extension educator positions have been lost through attrition in recent years. Nearly half the counties in Idaho now have only a single extension educator.

Farm Bureau members want to see some of the vacancies filled, said John Thompson, director of information for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation.

"We want people who are experienced in commercial ag and forestry," he said. "Delegates are saying they are seeing fewer county agents and they're becoming more specialized."

A 30-member task force composed of industry stakeholders, county commissioners, legislators and UI faculty is working on a redesign of the extension system in Idaho.

The university is considering the closure of up to three research and extension centers due to budget cuts. Keeping the centers open will likely require additional funding from Idaho ag organizations, officials have said.

The Idaho Farm Bureau board of directors is considering a $10,000 contribution to the effort, Thompson said.

Other resolutions up for consideration this year include:

* Opposing government restriction of grazing permits because of the proximity of wild bighorns and domestic sheep. A federal judge in October barred a Riggins, Idaho, area rancher from turning his sheep out on a BLM grazing allotment because of the danger of spreading disease to bighorns in the area.

* Opposing any attempt to force employers to provide mandatory health insurance.

* Supporting state jurisdiction of confined animal feeding operations, except for siting decisions, which should be left to individual counties.

* A measure stating that utility transmission corridors should be routed so they have minimal impact on private property.

* Opposing any efforts to classify equines as pets.

The annual meeting will also include a leadership conference with workshops on a variety of topics including commodity hedging, time management, wealth transfer and legislative issues.

Online

What: Idaho Farm Bureau meeting

When: Dec. 1-3

Where: Shilo Inn, Idaho Falls

Information: www.idahofb.org

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