Farm Bill

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho state foresters are using a provision of the 2014 federal Farm Bill to increase logging in some forests. The collaborative approach comes at a time when the debate over public land management continues – often at a fever pitch.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s senators Tuesday sided with a majority of their colleges to pass the revamped farm bill. It now goes to President Obama for a signature. Both Idaho senators had said they were undecided in the days leading up to the vote.

CompassioninWorldFarming / Flickr

Idaho’s Republican delegation in the U.S. House voted early Wednesday in favor of the new farm bill. Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Mike Simpson cast votes in favor of the legislation, which cuts more than $8 billion in food stamp spending while ending a direct subsidy to crop farmers. It also expands crop insurance programs backed by the federal government.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador reacted today to the Senate’s approval Thursday of an immigration reform bill.  The Republican congressman who made his living as an immigration attorney before being elected to the House in 2010 says he gives the Senate credit for framing the issue and addressing important aspects of the immigration debate. 

Courtesy of Sen. Mike Crapo's office

Supporters of the Senate immigration bill got a boost today from the Congressional Budget Office.  The CBO report says the bill would boost the economy and reduce federal deficits.  But last night, the House approved an immigration bill increasing criminal penalties against anyone in the U.S. illegally. 

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Senate passed a $955 billion Farm Bill Monday.  It covers everything from crop insurance to conservation, to commodity programs. 

But by far the largest part of the bill is for food stamps known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.  States receive $760 billion for  those in need.  Right now, Idaho gets $29 million a month from the federal government for SNAP benefits.

Joe Jaszewski / Idaho Statesman

Many Northwest growers are left out of the partial extension of the U.S. Farm Bill included in this week’s fiscal cliff legislation. The new law largely covers conventional agriculture and not the organics, specialty crops and conservation programs that our region’s farmers are known for. 

A popular USDA conservation program encourages some farmers to turn their crop ground back into bunch grass or native forbs. That helps to preserve the soil so we don’t have another drought dust bowl.

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.