Farming and ranching are big business in North Central Idaho. Discover what's new and what's changing in The Idaho County Free Press Farm and Ranch section.

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Items don’t just appear in a neat package on the store shelf for consumers to buy. With the holiday baking season upon us, take a moment to think about how much work was put into producing each ingredient, and appreciate the agriculture producers in our area. Wheat production plays an important role in Idaho’s economy, creating jobs and income, not only in the production process, but also in transportation, storage, milling and input supply industries.

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The contention that surrounded NAFTA 23 years ago still permeates today’s government, as more stakeholders and Congress members voice their concerns about the ongoing negotiations and how they will affect trade with Canada and Mexico. NAFTA virtually eliminated tariffs on raw and processed agricultural goods, eliminated tariffs on manufactured products such as automobiles, and created protections for intellectual property rights between the US, Canada and Mexico.

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The 14th annual Three Rivers Grazing Conference will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the Williams Conference Center on the campus of Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston. The conference begins at 8 a.m. with a trade show featuring pasture and range equipment and supplies. At 9 a.m., the presentations will begin.

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A 10-year long court battle, courtesy of Idaho ranchers, Paul Nettleton and Tim Lowry, ended as a big plus for grazing permittees on Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.

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“You just have to figure it out – I didn’t really want to be retired and sitting around eating potato chips and watching Oprah,” laughed Tresa Shearer.

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Some champs lose their edge to the pack over time, some retire and fade away. And then there was Molly Bee.

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Despite smoke in the air and hazy skies, Mike Hauger was busy at work with harvest Sunday, Aug. 5, just off U.S. Highway 95 in Grangeville, between Powerline and Zumalt roads.

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The Idaho County Commission declared an agricultural disaster during the July 25 meeting “due to unusual and excessive spring moisture conditions, which have prevented the planting of approximately 31,432 acres of spring crops, specifically 28,064 acres of spring wheat, spring canola, large garbanzo beans and green peas.”

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While numbers have significantly dropped and raised within the last five years, the current standing of cattle and calves in Idaho County, as of Jan. 1, 2017, is less than 2 percent down from head totals for this same time in 2013.

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Farmers, ranchers, agri-support personnel and others interested are invited to attend a morning tour of the Camas Prairie grain industry and a hosted breakfast on Thursday, June 29. The Prairie Area Crop and Conservation Tour will start with a 7 a.m. breakfast at the Craigmont Community Center and concludes at noon. Speakers will include University of Idaho research and extension staff.

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“I’m proud to be associated with Farm Bureau Insurance, my clients are also my friends,” said Mike Asker, Grangeville Farm Bureau Insurance agent. Agricultural producers have many assets in land, cattle, crops, buildings, and machinery that need covered by some type of insurance policy. Producers also need health coverage on themselves and their families.

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Several factors will come into play in 2017 that will determine the direction of land values. Within Idaho, the outlook is relatively stable rates that continue to favor landowners.

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Gordy Webster took a chance in 1978. He bought into Bell Equipment with his friend, Gary Stapleton, and moved his family from Seattle to Nezperce.

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The flow topped 125,000 cubic feet per second in on March 11, 2014, here, at the second of the Snake River dams grain barges encounter below Clarkston. Rain and thawing at lower elevations brought the water down uncommonly early that spring, but apart from its timing, the flow was nothing out of the ordinary.

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In 2007, Art and Doug McIntosh of Lewiston launched an effort to add vintners to their resume. Theirs was already impressive, including fourth-generation grain farmers, work for the Associated Press as a photographer, and as jazz musicians who toured Europe.

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You’ve been out with your horse and you’re heading home. Your horse knows where you’re heading and he can’t wait to get there. You must hold him back to keep him from grabbing another gear. As you do, he’s learning to push on the bit and drop his belly- the opposite posture you want to practice.

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Clark Tacke, 28, and his wife, Sara, live in Cottonwood. Since 2012, he has owned and operated a farm between Greencreek and Grangeville with his dad, Cliff Tacke, where they raise wheat and barley, some canola, as well as grain hay.

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Calving in the winter and early spring can be a challenge due to bad weather conditions and mud. Scouring calves at this time of year can also be a big concern for some operations.

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