Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wolf Management Bill Introduced In US House of Representatives

Last week, Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-2), Congressman Raúl Labrador (ID-1), and Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) introduced HR 510, the Idaho and Montana Wolf Management Act of 2011.

If passed, the legislation would return wolf management authority to the states. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources for a hearing.

Congressman Labrador sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources, and if you are in his Congressional district, you can contact his office at (202) 225-6611 or via email to express your opinion on this bill.  If you live in Congressman Simpson’s district, you can reach him at (202) 225-5531 or click here to email him.

The full press release from Congressmen Simpson and Labrador can be read by here.

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Gov. Otter’s FY ’12 Proposed Budget for Idaho Soil and Water Commission

A few weeks ago, Governor Otter presented his FY 2012 Budget to state senators and representatives. His recommendation for the Idaho Soil and Water Commission (SWC) was $2,285,300 in general funds, and $290,200 in other fund sources for a total budget of $2,575,500.

SWC requested $3,405,000 for FY ’12, which included an additional $693,900 for district allocation, a figure based on budget projections from last spring.  That addition would fully fund the base allocation amount and the local two-to-one match.

The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee hearing on the Governor’s proposed budget for SWC is scheduled for February 8, 2011.  If you’re in the Boise area, you should stop by the hearing to support your district and IASCD!

You can view the full SWC budget by clicking here.

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Proposed Changes in Idaho Power’s Voluntary Load-Control Program

Idaho Power is seeking to change a voluntary load-control program they offer to irrigation customers. As those who participate in the program know, Idaho Power turns off specific irrigation pumps during peak load hours (1pm to 8pm) between June 15 and August 15. Participants then receive a monthly monetary credits on their June, July, and August power bills.

According to the Idaho Public Utility Commission’s press release, “Idaho Power wants to expand the hours of interruption from the current 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. to 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Customers who accept an extended interruption period will receive a higher payment, according to the company’s application. Idaho Power also wants to change the incentive payment structure from a fixed payment to a combination of fixed and variable payments. The fixed payment is one that pays customers simply for participating while the variable portion would be based on how much the company uses the program.”

Currently, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is taking comments on the proposed changed through February 9th, 2011. If you’d like to make a comment, please click here and fill in the case number (IPC-E-10-46) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.

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Financial Assistance Available for Idaho’s Organic Producers

The Idaho NRCS announced that farmers involved in organic production may qualify for funds to start conservation practices related to organic agriculture through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  NRCS is encouraging producers to apply for the EQIP “Organic Initiative” by March 4, 2011 to be considered for this year’s funds.  Both current producers who are certified organic and producers currently transitioning to organic production are eligible to apply.

Producers are also required to develop and carry out an Organic System Plan. These plans must be approved by the Idaho Department of Agriculture or a USDA accredited certifier. Applicants with certified organic operations must submit a copy of their current Organic System Plan. Transitioning producers must submit a self-certification letter agreeing to develop and implement an organic system plan.

Some examples of conservation practices that may benefit organic producers include conservation crop rotation, cover crops, and nutrient and pest management.

You can find out more about the Organic Initiative and apply for the program by clicking here.

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Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit, Boise, ID

Registration is ongoing for the 2011 Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit taking place on Monday, February 14 and Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at the DoubleTree Riverside, Boise, ID.  This year’s theme is “Advocacy, Ambition, and Idaho Agriculture.”

There are some great presentations, sessions and workshops scheduled. Starting on Monday, Betty Wolanyk will give a presentation titled, “Are You Smarter Than The Activist?” Later that afternoon, a panel has been put together to discuss Issues and Viability of Idaho Agriculture. Dinner that night is an All Idaho Strolling Supper starting at 6:00 pm. Your Idaho Legislators have been invited, and this would be a great opportunity to speak with them on the many upcoming, ongoing, and completed projects in your district.

Tuesday starts at 7:30am with an Ag Leadership Breakfast. At 9:30am, University of Idaho Research/Extension is giving a presentation titled, “Idaho’s Return on Investment”. Finally, the Governor’s Awards Luncheon and Presentation of Excellence in Agriculture Winners are announced. The luncheon will be at noon.

UPDATE! Betty Wolanyk will be leading a workshop on Tuesday afternoon titled, “Are We Answering The Right Questions?”. This is an interactive presentation that will help develop skills and learn some new techniques in communicating the importance of the agriculture industry. The workshop runs from 2pm to 4pm, and costs $20 per person. This fee includes all materials, summary CD and refreshments. To register, contact Kay Johnson at 208-888-0988.

Young farmers and ranchers under the age of 40 can attend the Summit for $60. For more information, please visit the Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit website.

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Federal Dollars Available for Sage-grouse

The Idaho NRCS office just announced increased program funding this year to help farmers and ranchers protect declining sage-grouse populations and habitat in Idaho.

The Sage-grouse Initiative (SGI) helps pay for putting specific conservation practices in place that will improve sage-grouse habitat or reduce threats to bird survival. These practices may also improve rangeland conditions. Idaho received just over $3 million for the initiative this year.

Producers can apply for the Sage-grouse Initiative at any time. Applications received before April 15 will be ranked for funding in fiscal year 2011. Landowners in the historic range for sage-grouse are eligible to apply for the initiative.

You can read the entire release by clicking here, or for more information, visit the NRCS Sage-grouse Initiative website.

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Welcome!

Thank you for checking out the Idaho Association of Soil Conservation Districts (IASCD) new blog!   The IASCD Board of Directors hopes this will become an innovative way for individual districts, farmers, legislators, and other interested parties to communicate. Each week, we’ll post relevant and interesting news articles on agriculture, farm conservation efforts, and state and federal legislation. Also, keep an eye out for new grant announcements, on-the-ground projects happening in our districts, or fun posts on the best native plants for your garden. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking the button on the right, or by emailing Bret Rumbeck at bretrumbeck.iascd@gmail.com.

The creation of conservation districts in our nation can be traced back to the Dust Bowl Era of the 1930s. Years of sustained drought, intensive farming without erosion reducing techniques, and dust storms simply added to the nation’s social and economic perils. The US Department of Agriculture felt that effective conservation needed to be created and managed locally. In May 1936, a model law was crafted to serve as a guide for states to create conservation districts.

Idaho passed their soil conservation district law, Senate Bill 36, on March 1, 1939, and was signed into law by Governor C.A. Bottolfsen on March 9, 1939. The first conservation districts in Idaho were formed in 1940, and included Latah, Bear Lake, Portneuf, Squaw Creek, and Mayfield (which later became Elmore). There were 22 conservation districts by 1947, 48 by 1957, and the districts reached a high of 55 by 1962. Today, the 50 conservation districts are the primary entities to provide assistance to private landowners and land users in the conservation, sustainment, improvement, and enhancement of Idaho’s natural resources.

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