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.


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.

Jeremiah Clark

Farmers in Peru and Bolivia have been growing and eating quinoa for a long, long time. But over the last decade, the grain’s high nutritional value has made it a popular food in countries like the U.S. and Canada. South America quinoa production has more than doubled since 2010 as producers have tried to meet international demand.

Chris vT / Flickr Creative Commons

Update, Friday - 12:09 p.m.: The Humane Society of the United States, the largest animal welfare organization in the nation, is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for lethally poisoning Casey Echevarria's 12 dogs.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

The new crop of bing cherries has been beset with growing problems this year that are reducing the size of the crop.

The Northwest's most popular cherry variety could be in short supply in 2016, after the five-state Cherry Commission on Wednesday lowered its outlook for the season to 18.3 million 20-pound boxes.

The Tri-City Herald reported that some farmers are warning that if conditions worsen, some bing orchards could go unpicked.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Agricultural exports, a major segment of Idaho’s economy, took a 22 percent drop last year. That’s a decline of more than $200 million. Domestic ag sales were down in 2015 as well, as were the state’s non-ag exports, but neither saw as steep a drop as agricultural exports.

Roughly a quarter of Idaho ag products go overseas. And the going over the sea part was some of the problem according to Laura Johnson, market development manager at Idaho’s Department of Agriculture. Issues at west coast ports hurt sales to Asia.

Dave Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

After the deadly white-nose syndrome was found in a bat in the state of Washington, Idaho is stepping up protections against the fungus.

Idaho Fish and Game says it’s working to prevent the fungus from coming here, while at the same time, making preparations in case it does show up, like creating an inter-agency response plan for Idaho.

The Department says there are 14 bat species living in the state. At least half hibernate here. White-nose syndrome is known to kill hibernating bats.

The Treefort Music Festival is preparing for what will likely be its biggest year since it began in 2012. And as it grows, new elements of the festival continue to emerge.  This year attendees will see another branch of the festival with a focus on food issues.  Tara Morgan is one of the organizers of Foodfort. She says that aspect of the festival will feature two components.

“For the taste component we have 10 local chefs that are utilizing mostly local ingredients to create small plates, and then talks which is a series of panels and discussions related to food,” Morgan said.


If you're a woman in agriculture, you're more likely to farm in Oregon than in Idaho.

Idaho's so-called "ag-gag" law, which outlawed undercover investigations of farming operations, is no more. A judge in the federal District Court for Idaho decided Monday that it was unconstitutional, citing First Amendment protections for free speech.

But what about the handful of other states with similar laws on the books?

Matt Northam / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal judge has ruled that Idaho's law banning secret filming of animal abuse at agricultural facilities is unconstitutional.

U.S. Judge Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled Monday the law violates the First Amendment.

A coalition of animal activists, civil rights groups and media organizations sued the state more than a year ago, opposing the so called "ag gag" law. The coalition said the law curtailed freedom of speech and made gathering proof of animal abuse a crime with a harsher punishment than the penalty for animal cruelty.

Don Barrett / Flickr Creative Commons

Southwest Idaho stands out in bright red on the most recent drought map. The color signifies the area is in extreme drought. Jay Chamberlin of the Owyhee Irrigation District says that's not surprising, given the lack of snowpack last winter.

Tristan Buckner / Flickr Creative Commons

The drought is killing wheat crops in a northern Idaho county where commissioners declared a state of emergency.

The Lewiston Tribune reports some Clearwater County farmers have seen drought conditions eliminate almost two-thirds of this year's crops.

Commission Chairman Don Ebert says recent rains were too late to save wheat crops, and that harvests are down 40 percent.

The National Weather Service forecasts more rain this week, but not enough to end drought conditions.