Agriculture

David Chang / via Instagram

Take one look at famous fine dining chef David Chang's Instagram feed and you can tell the guy has a thing for high-and-low brow combinations. In one picture this May, Chang was eating some greasy potato chips accompanied by a luxurious tin of caviar.

Turns out, the chef is a big fan of an Idaho food captured in this photo – but no – we aren't talking about potatoes. 

Dave Shea / Flickr Creative Commons

Although neighboring states like Oregon and Washington may be better known for their craft beers, the Idaho beer industry is budding. One important ingredient is grown in the Gem State: hops.

The bitter ingredient is loved among craft-beer enthusiasts, and many popular hoppy beers are made possible by harvests from the Yakima, Washington area.

But DJ Tolmie -- who has been in the Idaho hop business for a while -- says the state has a lot of potential.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Idaho’s agricultural exports decreased by almost eight percent in 2016. The downturn comes as the U.S. dollar remains strong compared to other major currencies.

Since its record high in 2014, Idaho agricultural exports have been declining. The Capital Press newspaper reports the high value of the dollar is part of the problem. Digging into the numbers, Mexico imported the most Idaho products – about $176 million worth. Canada and China came next.

University of Idaho, College of Agricultural & Life Sciences / Facebook

Upgrading aging infrastructure at nine research and extension centers around the state is a main goal, the new director of the University of Idaho's Agricultural Experiment Station said.

Mark McGuire told the Capital Press that some of that infrastructure dates back to the 1960s and 1970s and needs upgrading so researchers have modern facilities and equipment.

Empire Unmanned / Facebook

The founder of an Idaho company that introduced the use of drones in agriculture is dreaming bigger — literally.

Empire Unmanned founder Steve Edgar is considering using Pocatello Regional Airport as a future hub for possible freight-carrying drones, reported The Capital Press. Edgar spoke about the possibility and the future of aerial shipping at Idaho State University last week.

Brent Moore / Flickr Creative Commons

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he’ll deport all 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. Lacking legal status, they fill many jobs – especially in farming. With Idaho solidly conservative, we wondered how those in agricultural areas reconciled their business interests with their politics.

Steve Millington is sitting in the back corner of the Twin Falls Perkins restaurant when we meet in the late morning. He’s the chairman of the Twin Falls County Republican Party and an avowed fan of breakfast; he has a plate of eggs, bacon and pancakes while we chat.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The Treasure Valley Food Coalition this week is asking the question, “why should we save farmland in Idaho?” As growth and development spread across the Treasure Valley, the coalition is starting a conversation about preserving farmland in places like Canyon County.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Capital Press this week wrote a piece articulating the tensions between rural and urban districts in Idaho, and how a power shift to Ada County may alter the state's identity. As people continue to move to the Treasure Valley in large numbers (Ada County grew by 29 percent between 2000-2015, Canyon County grew by 44 percent), representation in the statehouse will also increase.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

There’s a legal fight going on over control of water in the Treasure Valley. The rhetoric in the fight has been intense. One side even has an ad campaign. 

Imagine a movie-theater preview voice comes up over cheery music reminiscent of a babbling brook. 

“Irrigation water, it makes the Treasure Valley a lush green miracle instead of a desert landscape. Imagine a typical 105 degree summer day. Now imagine your irrigation water is completely shut off to your lawn, garden, farm or favorite park.” The music stops.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) is encouraging all its members to make a plan to protect pollinating insects and most states are doing that or have already adopted one. Dudley Hoskins with NASDA says the plans are needed because bees face a variety of threats.

Lake Lou / Flickr Creative Commons

The University of Idaho’s Canyon County extension office wants to give green thumbs a helping hand.

Horticulturist Rich Guggenheim says signing up for the Pest Alert Network is a great way to know what insects are causing problems in southwest Idaho, and how to deal with them.

 

“The goal is help people know when to spray, if they’re going to choose that option, what to spray with, and – more importantly – the correct way to manage it.”

Northwest Nazarene University

There may soon come a day where the vineyards in Canyon County are tended to by a robot.

Northwest Nazarene University engineering professor Josh Griffin is helping to lead a team of researchers and students building a prototype. They received an $81,000 grant from the Idaho Department of Agriculture to create the aptly named “IdaBot.”

Jimmy Emerson / Flickr Creative Commons

After the United Kingdom voted last month to leave the European Union, the decision hammered world markets. The British pound fell to a 30-year low after the vote. The euro also faltered while the U.S. dollar strengthened. Having a higher valued dollar is not all bad, of course – especially if your summer includes European adventure plans and you want to save some cash on vacation.

Screengrab USDA.gov

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, four Idaho counties are in a state of disaster because of drought. The counties are Canyon, Owyhee, Payette and Washington. Farmers and ranchers there and in any adjacent counties can get federal money to help them through the year if they can prove the drought is hurting their production.

As the price of mustard rises, growers in Idaho have expanded the average devoted to the crop by 250 percent.

The Capital Press reports that at 33.1 cents per pound delivered, mustard prices are up about 2.5 per pound from last year, making it one of the few crops to have increased in value in 2016. Idaho growers have seized on the opportunity to turn a profit.

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