February 7, 2020

Position Statement

Caldwell & Nampa Chambers of Commerce

2020 POSITION STATEMENT ON AGRIBUSINESS ISSUES

GENERAL STATEMENT

The Caldwell & Nampa Chambers of Commerce recognize that diversified agriculture is one of the major components of the economy of Canyon County, the State of Idaho, and the U.S. and therefore should be assisted to function in an atmosphere that enables it to compete profitably in worldwide markets. Agriculture is a base industry for Canyon County and Idaho’s economy. 


WATER RIGHTS

Water is a critical resource and is of primary economic importance and value to agriculture. We support due process in any allocation, control, or transfer of any water used for agricultural purposes under current water rights. Preservation of water and its associated infrastructure is essential. The “Waters of the U.S.” rules proposed by E.P.A. are complex and as written could impact agriculture dramatically. We support congressional legislation to remove the rules, but close monitoring is important to Canyon County, the State of Idaho, and western U.S. that rely on irrigated agriculture. We support that any water that enters a reservoir and is released or allowed to flow through for flood control purposes shall not be counted against the storage rights of our water rights holders. We support the position that flood control releases do not count against the storage rights of water right holders in the Boise River Basin. We support the position that water filling the reservoirs following flood control releases in the Boise River Basin is stored in priority to fill senior water rights first as to follow Idaho’s Prior Appropriation Doctrine that was adopted into Idaho’s Constitution in 1890. We support the SRBA Court’s September 1, 2016 decision that states water stored in the Boise River Basin’s reservoirs following flood control releases is stored pursuant to a senior water right. in 2019 the Snake River Basin Adjudication Court decreed the Refill 1 and Refill 2 water rights in the Basin 63 Settlement Agreement. This Agreement was something reached by the Irrigators, State of Idaho and Suez Company after 7 years of legal and political work, Understanding that the irrigators, state of Idaho and Suez Company reached an Agreement to settle the Basin 63 “refill” issue we support Judge Wildman’s decreed Refill 1 and Refill 2 water rights and any future legislative effort that would codify any of the terms of the Agreement into Idaho Statute including but not limited to language that states, “Any new structure that stores more that 1,000 acre-feet of surface water on or after April 1, 2019 shall be junior to all existing Basin 63 storage water rights.” 


AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION

The average age of farmers and others in the agribusiness sector that service agricultural needs is steadily increasing and many of them are going to retire in the near future. Currently we do not have enough of the younger generation choosing the agricultural industry as a career to fill these positions. Agricultural education in our high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools is critical to meet future sector demands while educating all students about the role agriculture plays in their everyday lives. National and state statistics show that students who participate in Agriculture Education programs at the secondary education level, along with FFA and 4-H, are far more likely to graduate from high school and go on to a post secondary education, whether it be academic or career and technical education, and/or finish that education and/or, are more prepared for career readiness than other students. Post secondary education as well as informal educational opportunities are also important contributors in the effort to provide agricultural education. 


CROP PRODUCTION

Canyon County is a highly specialized diversified agricultural production area with numerous seed crops being produced for national and worldwide markets. We support the continued research efforts to enhance the economic base and provide for the future needs of the United States and the world. We particularly support continued funding of the Parma Research Station because it provides both useful data for existing crops and is looking for economically viable alternative crops that fit our soils and climate.


LAND USE PLANNING

Land use planning should be used as a vehicle to ensure that agricultural practices will remain viable in the area. Land use decisions should consider multiple use and long-term infrastructure requirements, including transportation both to and from all new development. Residential growth should develop from the city limits outward for efficient use of city and county services with the costs associated with that development being born by the developer. We support legislation that would provide for a Right-To-Farm disclosure on land sales in agricultural production areas. Agriculture is under intense scrutiny due to environmental concerns. Planning needs to account for environmental concerns. Planning needs to account for environmental impact studies to eliminate excessive costs and time delays.