Ryan Suppe

Suppe

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation hosted three meetings last month with local potato growers. The Federation hopes to address local growers’ concerns, which include low potato prices, marketing and the possibility of a new processing plant in Idaho.

The Federation held meetings in Rexburg, Burley and Aberdeen, which were attended by a total of 25 growers, as well as some state lawmakers.

Zak Miller, Idaho Farm Bureau Federation’s director of commodities and marketing, said in a news release the information obtained from the meetings will help the Federation determine what issues and policies the organization should support on behalf of Idaho potato growers.

“Farm Bureau has the ability to take a position on many things,” Miller said in the release. “But we want to make sure that when we do that, it’s what the growers want. We try extremely hard to know what the will of our local growers is. That’s why we’re having these meetings.”

A major theme from the meetings was the low prices Idaho potato farmers are currently receiving for their spuds.

“They’re frustrated by low prices and looking for solutions to improve their bottom lines,” said Sean Ellis, spokesman for the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. “They’ve suffered through some comparatively low prices for several years now.”

One recommended solution to improve prices is the formation of a local potato marketing agency.

“Marketing is a topic people are talking about because they are unhappy with prices,” Miller said in the release. “Everyone agreed it’s a concept that needs to be well thought out and evaluated.”

Potato growers proposed that building a new potato processing plant in Idaho would improve prices, as well, hoping the Federation would support such a project.

The growers pointed to a 2017 study, funded by the Idaho Potato Commission, which found that Idaho would be the most cost-effective state in the U.S. to build a new fry processing plant.

“That would be huge to get another potato processor in Idaho,” said Travis Blacker, the Idaho Potato Commission’s industry relations director, in the release.

Other issues addressed during the meetings include: immigration reform and current labor shortages, the challenges and expenses posed by the various audits many potato growers must undergo and the need for a reliable transportation system, the release said.

Ellis said the Federation plans to hold similar meetings with potato growers in the future. Dates have yet to be selected.

INL named top employer by Professional Woman’s Magazine

Professional Woman’s Magazine, a publication that promotes the advancement of multicultural diverse women in business and employment, named Idaho National Laboratory among its 2019 Best of the Best Top Government and Law Enforcement Agencies.

The magazine’s annual review evaluates employers, initiatives and government agencies on their advancement of diversity and equal opportunity policies.

INL was one of 54 government and law enforcement agencies named in the awards. Five national laboratories were recognized.

“This is an important step on our inclusion journey and affirms that we are making progress,” said Ron Crone, INL associate laboratory director and executive sponsor of INL’s Women in Leadership Council, in a news release. “We’re going to keep the positive momentum going.”

According to the release, INL initiatives and policies that helped the lab achieve Professional Women’s Magazine’s recognition include:

— Targeted promotions and external outreach to women via nationwide diversity recruitment job posting platforms, external communication products and advertisements.

— Internal outreach through symposiums and focus groups.

— Community outreach programs including the K-12 STEM Education and Outreach program, Team INL employee volunteer program, CARE Program (employee financial assistance for those who suffer economic hardship) and economic and workforce development programs.

— Development of next-generation leaders through programs such as My Amazing Future and Multicultural Leaders in STEM Day.

D.L. Evans Bank named SBA’s Rural Lender of the Year

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Boise District Office recently named D.L. Evans Bank Rural Lender of the Year for 2018.

It’s the fifth time D.L. Evans Bank has received the award, according to a news release, and the bank is the only financial institution in the state of Idaho to have received it.

Founded in Albion in 1904, D.L. Evans Bank — now based in Burley — has 32 branches throughout Idaho and Utah.

INL awarded technology commercialization funding for 13 projects

Idaho National Laboratory has received funding awards for 13 projects proposed to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions Technology Commercialization Fund, the lab announced last week.

Created in 2005, the Technology Commercialization Fund promotes promising energy technologies across the Department of Energy’s national labs.

INL received the most awards of any national lab during this round of funding, according to a news release. The lab received $2.18 million from the Technology Commercialization Fund and equivalent matching funds from partners for a total of $4.36 million.

“Each project was selected for its potential to advance promising commercial energy technologies and strengthen partnerships between INL and private sector companies to deploy energy technologies to the marketplace,” the release said.

Projects are divided into to topics. Topic 1 projects identify technology maturation activities to attract a private partner. Topic 2 projects advance a lab-developed technology in collaboration with a private sector partner to bolster commercial application.

The largest Topic 1 project awards were given to:

— Switchable Solvent Water Extraction for Material Processing and Isolation, $150,000. Trevi Systems is the private partner.

— Computer Programs for Analysis of Thermally Reactive Tracer Tests in Geothermal Reservoirs, $150,000. Geothermal Science Inc. and Ormat Inc. are the private partners.

Two Topic 2 awards were given. Those include:

— Highly Dynamic Electronic Work Instructions for Advanced Reactors, $750,000. GSE Systems is the private partner.

— Application of Advanced Preprocessing Technologies for Biopower and Biobased Products, $300,000. Lignetics Inc. is the private partner.

Volunteers needed for Fourth of July Parade

The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce is asking for volunteers for its 2019 Independence Day Parade, which will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

There are several volunteer categories, some of which require recruiting a team of volunteers. Other tasks can be accomplished prior to the parade.

For information and to volunteer, call 208-523-1010 or send an email to programs@idahofallschamber.com.

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Reporter Ryan Suppe can be reached at 208-542-6762. Follow him on Twitter: @salsuppe.

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