(Aug. 31) SUN VALLEY, Idaho — The next farm bill, immigration woes and the estate tax are just a few of the national issues that hit home for members of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association.

Speaking Aug. 30 at their annual meeting, Senate Republican Mike Crapo told his constituents that he does not think the current farm bill should be extended, and it certainly should better reflect the 45% of farmgate receipts accounted for by specialty agriculture.

But the farm bill should not be rewritten to appease the World Trade Organization, he said.

“I didn’t fall off the potato truck yesterday,” Crapo said. “I think we should continue our international farm trade policies. To make concessions in hopes of gaining momentum in WTO talks is foolish.”

One demand from the WTO is the removal of the flex-acre planting prohibition for program crops, a move that would cause perhaps a 25% jump in nationwide potato acreage, said John Keeling, executive vice president of the National Potato Council, Washington, D.C.

Such an influx would decrease the value of the potato market by a third, Keeling said, quoting an Informa study.

Such discussion about oversupply may become moot if the U.S. gets serious on enforcing immigration.

From a labor availability standpoint, an enforcement-first bill in the House would prove disastrous to harvesting efforts, Keeling said, among other effects.

“If the House bill happens, practically every agricultural employer becomes a criminal,” he said.