This time Idaho farm groups will send just one letter to the Bush administration urging action on low wheat prices, rather than two separate notes with different messages.
In October, 15 Idaho farm and commodity groups urged U.S. Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter to increase the loan rate for wheat deposited with the Commodity Credit Corp. and to use more export enhancement funds to give exporters incentive to ship wheat overseas.But the Idaho Farm Bureau, often billed as the largest farm organization in the state, did not sign that letter. It opted instead to send a separate, generalized appeal asking Yeutter to use whatever tools he has to help Idaho farm families.
The new letter, signed Friday by many of the original organizations and the Farm Bureau, asks primarily that Yeutter take actions to boost exports of wheat, including extension of export credit guarantees to the Soviet Union and renewed loans to Pakistan to buy U.S. wheat.
Gov. Cecil Andrus, Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings and Idaho Agriculture Director Greg Nelson also signed the letter. Nelson said unity came about because the groups decided not to include issues on which they disagreed or to belabor the administration's responsibilities to farmers.
"That produced a less contentious letter," he said. "This one is really very mild."
Response to the original letters came from Richard Crowder, undersecretary of agriculture. He said the USDA had replenished the U.S. food security wheat reserve - another of the original letter's requests - and boosted export enhancement program bonuses.
Others signing Friday's letter were the Idaho Dairy Association, Potato Growers of Idaho, National Farmers Organization of Idaho, Idaho Sugarbeet Growers Association, American Agriculture Association, Idaho Barley Commission, Idaho State Grange, Idaho Rural Council, Idaho Pork Producers Association, Idaho Grain Producers Association, Utah-Idaho Farmers Union, and the Idaho Wheat Commission.
Beef, sheep and dry bean producers had no representatives signing the memo. Local wheat prices dropped $1.45 per bushel between January and October. Magic Valley elevators were paying $2.15 last week. Wheat is grown on more acres than any other Idaho crop.