Idaho

Crop-identifying signs sprouting up in Idaho

Large signs mark what kind of crops are growing along highways in Idaho and Lewis counties, such as this canola field in Ferdinand.
Large signs mark what kind of crops are growing along highways in Idaho and Lewis counties, such as this canola field in Ferdinand. Lewiston Tribune via the AP

If you’ve ever driven by ripening grain fields and puzzled over what’s growing there, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency has a solution for you.

This year, shortly before Memorial Day, signs identifying the various crops that are grown in Idaho and Lewis counties began sprouting up along U.S. 95, Idaho 162 between Grangeville and Nezperce, and in some spots beside U.S. 12.

It’s a project sponsored by the Idaho and Lewis counties’ farm agency offices, said Julie Fowler, executive officer for the Idaho County office.

The idea came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food program.

“It was an outreach project,” Fowler said. “We have a lot of people who will come in and ask us what crops are planted. So this lets people know this is canola or dark northern spring wheat, or whatever.

“It just brings an awareness of it. A lot of people don’t know what kinds of crops are planted in Idaho, so this gives us an idea of what we do in Idaho County.”

The reason I started this project, I thought the signs would be a great way to show the public local crops that are growing throughout the area.

Kaci Ralstin, Lewis County farm agency office

Lewis County has planted the crop signs since 2014. Kaci Ralstin of the county’s farm agency office said, “We’ve had tons of compliments on them and it’s a project we enjoy doing.”

Each county has produced 30 signs at a cost of about $100 per sign. Funding for the Idaho County signs comes from the agency, the Idaho Wheat Commission, Idaho County Soil and Water and the Idaho County Grain Producers.

In Lewis County the underwriters include the agency, the Idaho Wheat Commission, Hillco Technologies and the Nezperce FFA chapter.

Industrial technology and FFA students at Grangeville and Prairie high schools, as well as the Nezperce FFA chapter and agency employees, did the metal work and built and distributed the signs.

Fowler said the signs were erected in mid-May and probably will be removed before harvest begins.

“I’d like to leave them, but I think they might get in the farmers’ way when they harvest,” she said.

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