Catching Up with CALS — Jan. 9, 2019
Dean's Message — Educating Students
It’s the first day of spring semester, and for many of our students, today marks the final push toward graduation and getting on with their lives.
Job prospects in the agricultural and life sciences offer many exciting opportunities. The spring career fair, to be held on campus (Feb. 6), will give students the chance to learn about many of them.
Although career fairs typically seem most relevant to seniors, the truth is first-year students greatly benefit from attending and learning about job and internship prospects early in their college careers.
Three weeks ago, CALS offered students from across U of I and beyond the chance to learn more about agricultural careers firsthand with a one-day tour of the southern Idaho’s dairy industry.
Students and faculty visited the Idaho Jersey Girls and Si-Ellen dairies. The group heard from Rick Naerebout, Idaho Dairymen’s Association executive director, and toured Glanbia’s Cheese Innovation Center and Jerome Cheese Company.
CALS development director Jim Miller did a fine job of organizing an informative tour that will no doubt contribute to the common good for students who are interested in rewarding careers and an industry in need of qualified students.
CALS sponsored the tour as part of its mission to provide a skilled workforce to support agriculture. The tour drew our own students and others from the colleges of engineering, science and law. A Washington State University vet student joined, too, as did College of Southern Idaho students.
That mix reflects the broad range of opportunities. Ag needs chemists, microbiologists, chemical engineers and lawyers who understand the industry, first, and are equipped to meet its challenges and reap its opportunities.
The tour is also part of our outreach mission to give dairy industry leaders the chance to learn from our students and faculty. Conversations and ideas that start from a different perspective may provide a key to unlocking new sources of innovation.
The dairy tour fits in with our effort to create the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. CAFE relies on a cooperative approach among many partners and highlights the broad nature of the dairy industry.
One of the greatest things about the tour is the simplest part of it all. The tour was entirely voluntary. No one required the students or faculty, many of them already on winter break, to attend. They joined in to learn about one of Idaho’s major industries.
We’re already thinking about offering a tour focused on the beef industry, another major force in Idaho’s economy.
The agronomic and horticultural side of agriculture has traditionally provided more opportunities for growers and the public to learn about the industry through research and extension center field days and UI Extension tours. But that’s not to say we’re not thinking about new ways to educate students about crops, too.
The big picture is that we are excited, and our students are excited, about agriculture’s future. And that’s a fine way to start spring semester.
Michael P. Parrella
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
By the Numbers
$2,359,000,000 buys a lot of milk, 15,000,000,000 pounds to be precise. All of Idaho’s annual production last year, according to projections by U of I economists Ben Eborn and Garth Taylor in “The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2018.” Even so, milk cash receipts dropped 6 percent or $151 million from 2017, the report said. Hay brought in $483 million, the biggest gainer, up 26 percent or $99 million. Overall Idaho ag’s cash receipts stayed statistically flat at $7.2 billion between the years, despite a dip of $22 million or 1/3 percent.
Our Stories — Tour Explores Dairy Industry
A tour of Idaho’s dairy industry leaders from milk parlors to a cheese plant drew students from the U of I, Washington State University and College of Southern Idaho in mid-December.
The CALS-sponsored Dec. 17 tour drew 40 participants including students and faculty from the college and UI Extension. They viewed operations at two dairies, Glanbia’s Cheese Innovation Center at Twin Falls and the Jerome Cheese Company plant and met with Idaho Dairymen’s Association executive director Rick Naerebout.
“It’s always enjoyable to engage with students and have that dialogue with individuals who potentially will be professionals in our industry in coming years and the excitement and youthfulness they bring to the table,” Naerebout said.
“We wanted to give students from across the university and faculty the chance to learn more about Idaho’s dairy industry. We wanted to give them the chance to see it and to talk with people involved in it,” said Jim Miller, the tour organizer and CALS development director in Moscow.
Students from the U of I colleges of engineering, law and science and a WSU vet student joined the tour. Some of the participants on the tour left Moscow on Sunday, Dec. 16, and spent the night at Burley. College of Southern Idaho and U of I students home on break joined there to visit the Malta dairy and the Si-Ellen Dairy near Jerome.
The tour visited the Idaho Jersey Girls Dairy operated by the Millenkamp family near Malta. That stop alone convinced Dana Reynolds of Moses Lake, Washington, to join the tour.
An agricultural systems management major and president of the Collegiate Farm Bureau chapter, she grew up on a large-scale potato farm.
Seeing a modern dairy that milks 15,000 cows and experiencing a different facet of agriculture was an opportunity worth postponing the holiday break for a couple of days, Reynolds said.
“I was impressed almost beyond words. I appreciated the opportunity to have that exposure to industry and some of the bigger operations and how they’re making the magic work, really,” she said. “For me as an ag student and somebody who wants to be in the industry, having the opportunity to expand what I know is very valuable.”
The Glanbia and Jerome Cheese visits helped put in perspective the scope of the industry, CALS Dean Michael Parrella said. “We wanted to help students interested in chemistry, chemical engineering and microbiology understand that the dairy industry offers a lot of good career opportunities.”
The tour was an excellent test of concept, Miller said. “The group was probably a little larger than ideal for some of the operations we visited. As it was, we ended up turning away six or eight students who wanted to join in.” Plans call for refining the idea and offering future tours.
'18 Ag Receipts Stable, Net Farm Income Dips
U of I agricultural economists said 2018 projections showed higher cash receipts from Idaho crops helped offset a slump in milk, cattle and livestock sales, and increased expenses.
Cash sales of crops rose 5 percent while livestock production receipts dipped 4 percent. The total nearly held steady at just shy of $7.2 billion. Combined with other income sources, total farm revenues topped $7.9 billion, essentially repeating 2017 projections.
Extension Economist Ben Eborn and economist Garth Taylor of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology assessed the industry’s performance in their report “The Financial Condition of Idaho Agriculture: 2018.” The report is available online.
Government payments to farmers for conservation, price supports and other programs dropped 19 percent or $30 million to $132 million.
Hay receipts rose 26 percent to $483 million, wheat 16 percent to $490 million and beans 14 percent to $74 million to lead the crop side of the ledger.
Idaho’s most valuable crop, potatoes, led crops with $864 million in sales, a decline of 4 percent from 2017.
Milk sales generated nearly $2.4 billion to lead livestock receipts. Cattle sales yielded $1.6 billion and sales of other livestock from trout to sheep and poultry to mink generated $205 million. Milk cash receipts dipped 6 percent, other livestock 2 percent and cattle 1 percent compared to 2017.
Overall cash receipts dipped slightly by $22 million to $7.2 billion.
Net farm income, the difference between receipts and expenses, fell to $902 million, a 27 percent decline from 2017, a duplicate of the previous year’s percentage drop.
Net farm income declined the fifth consecutive year, falling to less than half the $2 billion projected in 2013, and 40 percent of the high of $2.25 billion in 2011.
Expenses rose nearly $300 million to $7 billion, led primarily by rising prices for fuel, fertilizer and other inputs, and ate away at net farm income. Payments to stakeholders rose $121 million to nearly $1.5 billion, the largest single expense increase.
Faces and Places
Idaho Agricultural Experiment Station Director Mark McGuire and Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences Director Shelley McGuire participated in a forum at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dec. 14. The forum, "Fearing our food: science communication challenges in an era of misinformation," drew mostly government and agency officials. Their presentation was entitled "The intersection of scientific research, university politics and advocacy backlash." The forum was sponsored by the USDA Office of Pest Management Policy.
- Jan. 16-17 — Pre-license Training for Urban Pesticide Applicators at INLA. Contact: Kimberly Tate, 208-364-4581, email@example.com. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Jan. 21-25 — Idaho Legislature Joint Finance-Appropriations Week, Boise
- Feb. 5-7 — Spokane Ag Expo
- Feb. 18 — Dean’s Advisory Board meeting, Boise
- Feb. 19 — Larry Branen Ag Summit
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