Food Producers of Idaho represents over 40 farm and commodity organizations and agribusinesses. Food Producers is a unique organization that addresses key issues and legislation impacting Idaho’s farmers/ranchers and agriculture industry. Food Producers has instituted strict guidelines that determine whether or not they will establish a position on an issue.
Food Producers meets weekly during the legislative session to review legislation, meets with bill sponsors, and discusses positions that benefit all of agriculture in Idaho. The organization established the following special committees to address issues: Transportation, Labor, Water, Animal Issues and Industry Relations.
Each week, Food Producers publishes the minutes of the weekly meeting along with the Green Sheet (indicating issues discussed and the position Food Producers has taken). These publications are delivered to each legislator enabling clear communication of where agriculture stands on specific issues. The Green Sheet includes the bill number with a brief description, the position of Food Producers and where in the legislative process the bill is located. The Green Sheet will also indicate if Food Producers is tracking an issue. On tracked bills, the floor vote of the issue will be recorded for each legislator.
Elected officials who maintain a record of support on legislation supported by Food Producers will be recognized as an Ag All Star. A recognition banquet is held each year at the start of the legislative session. Ag All Star recognition is based on voting record, approachability and advocacy for agriculture.
A Brief History
In response to disruptive activities by agents of Cesar Chavez at harvest time in 1970, several Idaho commodity organizations formed Food Producers of Idaho under the leadership of farmer and former Governor Phil Batt of Wilder.
The first mission of this new group was to seek the enactment of farm labor legislation to remove collective bargaining from the narrative. Such a law was passed by the Idaho Legislature in 1971, with a termination date of March 31, 1972.
In the spring of 1972, Food Producers approached the legislature with a law written by Boise attorney Richard Fields. The 1972 version was patterned closely after national legislation. The legislature provides for secret elections where necessary and also defines fair and unfair labor practices for employers, workers and their unions. A five-person labor board administers this law which has never been challenged in the courts. Two board members were selected by Food Producers, two by the Migrant Council and the final selection by the Governor.
From this small beginning, Food Producers of Idaho has grown into a strong alliance of over 40 Idaho agricultural organizations. It has made significant contributions to Idaho public policy.
In 1975, Food Producers of Idaho inaugurated the Idaho Agricultural Fact-Finding Tour for congressional staff personnel and federal agency employees. This tour provided them the opportunity to visit Idaho and learn first-hand about agriculture and natural resource issues. Over 100 individuals visited the Gem State under this program. The program was discontinued in 2007 due to revised Congressional ethic rules which prohibited travel for these types of events.
Food Producers of Idaho is and has been involved in a number of special projects to promote and educate people about the agriculture industry. In 1994, Food Producers created the first Agriculture Pavilion at the Western Idaho Fair in Boise. The Pavilion provided fair visitors an up-close look at the agriculture industry in Idaho. The Pavilion has also been displayed at the Eastern Idaho State Fair and the Twin Falls County Fair. An estimated 40,000 visitors tour the Ag Pavilion each year. In 2010, a permanent building was built in Filer for the Twin Falls County Fair to host the Ag Pavilion.
Other projects of Food Producers include the annual University of Idaho Agriculture Economics Public Policy Tour for students which takes place each January. Food Producers was instrumental in facilitating the development of the Agriculture Natural Resource Industry Political Action Committee (ANRIPAC). Food Producers holds a permanent position on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board, is involved with the Larry Branen Idaho Ag Summit, Idaho Council on Industry and the Environment and annually sponsors the Ag All Star Banquet recognizing selected legislators for their voting record.