Should "Farm" Stay in Idaho Farm Bureau?by Lloyd Hicks
Boise Weekly, January 26, 2005
I am a fourth generation stockman and longtime Farm Bureau member.
The Idaho Farm Bureau has taken a strong position against the water user groups, municipalities, farmers, ranchers and all agricultural-related commodity groups on the Nez Perce water agreement currently being debated by the Idaho State Legislature.
The Nez Perce tribes, the applicable Federal Agencies, Congress, Idaho water user groups, Canal Companies, Committee of Nine, The Attorney General and Governors Office have participated in the agreement and have confirmed their support for the final agreement. The details of the agreement are far too complex for review here but trust that all affected parties, were satisfied that the agreement was the best that could be achieved. Also, the primary goals of the Nez Perce tribes were satisfied and they agreed as well. The document was signed off by President George W. Bush, after congressional approval. The United States provided the money for upgrades, projects, land expansion and reparations for the tribes.
The agreement is a monumental step forward to resolve water issues in Idaho and removes uncertainties in water rights adjudication, allocation, and management. Also, the issues of the 150-year old Nez Perce treaty were heard, reconciled and promulgated. The agreement must be approved by the Idaho Legislature prior to March 31, 2005 or it will expire.
At the eleventh hour comes the Idaho Farm Bureau, incredibly, they issued a "position white paper" and lobby effort against the Nez Perce agreement.
The white paper cites: Three fundamental reasons for their position. It says the agreement undermines private property rights, Idaho agriculture economy and the democratic process.
These generalized statements are a slap in the face to the many intelligent people on all sides who have negotiated the detailed agreement on our behalf. In fact, the anti-Indian language and reversal of habitat improvements for Salmon spawning streams proposed by the Farm Bureau would not have gotten past the first few hours of the seven-year negotiation.
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