Friday, August 29, 2014

Farmers remain in limbo on crop damage

Barley crop could suffer 50 percent loss in value


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

So far this season, crops from Quigley Canyon near Hailey, above, appear to have suffered less damage from rain than areas to the south. Photo by staff files

    As Blaine County’s grain harvest approaches its midpoint, local farmers are still facing uncertainty about the extent of losses due to this month’s heavy rains.
    Blaine County farmers grow primarily barley and alfalfa hay. Most local barley farmers have contracts to sell their crops at a set price to MillerCoors, near Twin Falls, or Anheuser-Busch, near Idaho Falls. However, the brewers reserve the right to reject barley that has begun to sprout due to wet weather. Farmers must then sell their crop as feed, at about half the price of malting barley.
    Picabo farmer Pat Purdy, who serves on the Idaho Barley Commission, said the brewing companies are requiring farmers to separate their loads into bins, then bring in a sample from each bin for testing.
    “We haven’t had a bin outright rejected, but I’m guessing that we’ll have somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of our crop rejected,” he said. “If you have half your crop at half its value, that’s a significant loss.”
    Bellevue Triangle farmer Pepin Corso-Harris said her barley crop has been refused by Anheuser-Busch.
    “It’s all going for feed barley,” she said, “half the amount we could have sold it for had it been malt barley.  Sure doesn’t cover the seed, fertilizer, getting it in the ground, keeping the weeds back, water delivery assessments, power bills, harvesting and hauling.
    “We had some rain almost every single day for two weeks.  We’ve been here for over 35 years and we’ve never seen anything like this.”


We’ve been here for over 35 years and we’ve never seen anything like this.”
Pepin Corso-Harris
Farmer


    John Saili, who farms in Quigley Canyon, said that so far, his barley samples have been accepted by MillerCoors. He said the relatively shale-heavy soil there may drain better than soils farther south in the county, reducing the rain damage to the crops.
    Rain is especially destructive to hay that’s been cut and baled, leaching out the nutrients and promoting mold growth. Purdy said his family has cut about a quarter of their hay crop, and estimated the loss in value from $250 per ton to about $160 per ton.
    Crop insurance is available to farmers, but Purdy said few local farmers buy it since they can usually count on such a reliable crop.
    Ron Abbott, Idaho farm programs chief with the federal Farm Service Agency, said no loss compensation programs, as have been provided under previous farm bills, are currently available to farmers.
    The agency does provide federal loans for both regular operating costs and losses due to emergencies. Those can help farmers get their next year’s crop in. However, at about 3 percent, the emergency loan rate is a percentage point higher than the regular operating loans. FSA Farm Loan specialist Dan Mattson said the emergency loans are useful only to farmers who have already borrowed the $300,000 maximum available through regular operating loans.
    Ironically, a drought emergency was declared for Blaine County by the Idaho Department of Water Resources this spring. For local farmers to become eligible for emergency loans for crop losses due to excessive rain, an emergency would have to be declared by the U.S. secretary of agriculture upon request by the county commissioners. To obtain emergency loans, farmers would have to show a 30 percent crop loss and be unable to obtain credit from a bank.
    County Commissioner Angenie McCleary said the commissioners will probably address the matter next week.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.