Molly Messick / StateImpact

Some of Idaho’s most fertile farm ground has been hit by the drought that’s crippling crops nationwide.  Farmers who have deep wells and irrigation are faring well.  Those who don’t aren’t.  It’s one indication of the very different economics of dry-land and irrigated farming.

drought, field, agriculture
Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

In Idaho’s arid, high desert, the drought has a mixed effect.  There’s a big divide between farmers with deep wells and irrigation, and those without.

Hans Hayden is a rare find: a talkative farmer.  He likes to explain things.  But when it comes to the wheat he planted this spring, there’s not much to say.  This field needed rain it didn’t get. 

Peggy Greb / USDA

Starting today, fresh potatoes from Idaho, Oregon and Washington can no longer be exported to South Korea.

As Capital Press reported earlier this week, Korea’s export ban results from concerns over an insect-borne disease that causes light yellow potato flesh to darken and stripe — the zebra chip.

A Rancher, A Logger, And Economic Fate In Rural Idaho

Jul 11, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

In Idaho, the timber and ag industries are heavy hitters.  They play big roles in the state’s history and identity.  But the recession has dealt them different hands, dividing rural Idaho into winners and losers.  StateImpact Idaho takes a look at two industries, two counties, and two economic fates. 

Susan Ellis / APHIS, USDA

An unwelcome stowaway from the East Coast showed up in a Nampa home last month.  A brown marmorated stink bug likely hitched a ride in furniture or packing materials to Idaho.  This is the first time this pest has been found in Idaho.

This stink bug originated in Asia and popped up in mid-Atlantic states in the 1990s.  They have already caused major damage outside of Idaho to fruits and vegetables, especially apples, peaches, and pears. 

Photo Courtesy of USDA FSA / Farm Service Agency

Congress works on a new Farm Bill.  Meanwhile, repercussions from the last one are now being felt in some Idaho counties.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture will close four county Farm Service Agency offices in the next few months.  These offices help farmers and ranchers with federal commodity programs, disaster relief, and credit. 

Dry Conditions For Idaho’s Dryland Farmers

May 30, 2012
Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Last year, farmers and ranchers in southeast Idaho had a hard time getting crops in the ground because of persistent wet weather.  This year they’re facing the opposite problem, as weeks have passed without substantial rainfall.

University of Idaho agricultural economist Paul Patterson says irrigated areas in the region are faring well because of water left in storage from last year.  But dryland farmers, whose croplands aren’t irrigated, are less fortunate.  Those south of the Snake River in Power, Bannock and Oneida Counties appear to be hardest hit.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jim Risch (R-ID) want the federal government to be more aggressive in opening the market for U.S. potatoes in Mexico.  They joined seven other senators Thursday in urging federal trade and agriculture agencies to push Mexico on the issue.   

Jonathan D. Eisenback / Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (from USDA's website))

Three more Idaho potato fields are coping with the pale cyst nematode this year.  That brings the number up to fifteen since the pest was first found in 2006. 

The pale cyst nematode is about the size of a pinhead, but its effects can be devastating.  It attacks the roots of potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants. The nematode can also reduce plant yields by as much as 80 percent. 

Magic Valley Dairymen Eager For Expansion

May 3, 2012
Dave Young / Flickr

Idaho dairy farmers have been struggling with high feed costs and low milk prices for years.  The Times-News reports dairymen in the Magic Valley are optimistic about expanding and new producers in the area, namely Chobani.  Continue reading...


Wednesday marks World Trade Day in Idaho.  Companies throughout the state sold nearly $6 billion worth of exports last year.   That’s about 10% of everything Idaho produces.  As part of the day’s events, Boise State hosts a top U.S. trade negotiator.  Ambassador Isi Siddiqui will highlight international trade and American jobs.   

Tests results this week confirmed mad cow disease in California.  This announcement could have an economic impact on Idaho’s beef industry. 

Dairy Farmers And Lumberjacks Make Worst Jobs List

Apr 11, 2012
Mingerspice / Flickr Creative Commons

The online job search site CareerCast has released its list of best and worst jobs for 2012.

Topping the worst list are two professions with a history in Idaho: dairy farmers and lumberjacks.

CareerCast ranked 200 jobs based on these factors: work environment, income, outlook, stress and physical demands.  Continue reading...

lengmomo/ Flickr

The Northwest spring is getting off to a wet start. But Eastern Washington farmers appear to be right on schedule. 

Asparagus is the herald of spring. That’s because the crop depends heavily on soil temperature to sprout.

Farmer Alan Schreiber says if he and his neighbors harvest asparagus before April 5th it’s an early year. If they harvest after April 15 it’s late.

So far, it looks like the green and purple spears will pop up right on time. Schreiber says growers have been out in the field working for more than a month.

Idaho Lawmakers Consider Animal Cruelty Bill

Mar 12, 2012
Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

BOISE, ID – Idaho’s House of Representatives will soon vote on an animal cruelty bill.  House lawmakers in charge of agriculture backed legislation today that calls for penalties on people who torture pets.  The first two violations would be misdemeanors.  A third would be a felony.  Republican Representative Gayle Batt from Wilder has trouble with the bill.  She says, “Philosophically, I’m just really struggling with what to do with this legislation when we have abuse of children as misdemeanors and then we have for animals a felony.”  Child abuse can be considered a misdemeanor in Idaho i