News from Alaska Farm Bureau
January 2019
Alaska Farm Bureau News

Hope everyone is having a great start to 2019!  

It has been a busy start to 2019 for the Alaska Farm Bureau.  Working on issues affecting agriculture, preparing for the 31 st Legislature to begin and looking forward to some great events for ag supporters to attend!  Read through the newsletter to get information on these events - as well as an update on the sheep and goat issue we've been working on.

We are excited to be holding our 4th annual reception at the Governor's Mansion in Juneau!  We want to continue the tradition of being a fund reception to attend with delicious food produced by Alaska's farmers!  If you have something you would like to donate for the reception, or items to go in the goodie bags, please contact Amy Seitz.

Amy Seitz, Executive Director

37075 Nicholas View Lane
Soldotna, AK 99669 

PS. Do you still need to renew your Alaska Farm Bureau membership this year? Or, have you been meaning to join and just haven't gotten around to it? Join/renew on our website - 
Wild Sheep Foundation Pulls Out of Further Discussions with Sheep and Goat Owners

Collaborative efforts to find a reasonable approach to the issue around respiratory pathogens in sheep and goats - specifically
Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi) - came to a halt earlier this month when the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) indicated they were no longer interested in continuing conversations with domestic sheep and goat owners and would be pushing for Legislative action.

After roughly two years of discussions, Alaska Department of Fish & Game brought in a facilitator to assist domestic owners and wildlife organizations find an agreeable way to protect Dall sheep while minimizing impacts on domestic owners.  WSF was not satisfied with the multiple items that were being worked out and indicated they would be pushing for legislative mandates that would be costly & burdensome to domestic sheep and goat owners.
  • Mandatory registration of all domestic sheep and goats in Alaska
  • Mandatory testing for M. ovi and other pathogens of concern
  • Mandatory culling of any M. ovi positive animals
  • M. ovi free import requirements
  • Add to the regulatory level of the reportable disease list

The M. ovi prevalence study, which began in 2017, has had some interesting results coming out, raising questions about our understanding of M. ovi, but not indicating a need for drastic measures at this time.  Information on the study can be found on the Office of the State Vet webpage.  What's being found:

  • M. ovi has been detected in domestic and wild sheep and goats, also has been found in moose, caribou and deer - all at a similar prevalence rate
  • M. ovi has been found in wildlife across the state - including areas that do not have domestic sheep or goats
  • Only a few domestic animals tested positive on all three nasal swabs or blood sample - raising question on what is "infected"
  • M. ovi positive animals appear healthy - apart from one caribou that had many health issues
  • M. ovi positive does not mean an animal will get pneumonia; an animal needs enough stressors to weaken the immune system and other specific respiratory pathogens to cause disease

Domestic sheep and goat owners continue to work on minimizing the already low risk of interaction with Dall sheep or mtn goats.  Owners and appropriate agencies working together on outreach, education and voluntary programs will be more successful and cost effective than mandates on a pathogen that is not completely understood or easy to test.

Annual Meeting Recap:
Scott Mugrage Elected Alaska Farm Bureau President;  2019 Priorities Set

Scott Mugrage, of Mugrage Hay & Cattle, 
has been elected to serve as the 2019 Alaska Farm Bureau President.  

Scott has been involved in agriculture his whole life; in Illinois, Nebraska and finally settling in Delta Junction, Alaska.  

Scott along with wife, Julia, son, Justin, and Justin's family run a diversified farm with its core being beef cattle raised for finished product available around the state.  The Mugrage family also raises elk and crops for animal feed: barley, oat peas and grass hay.

"I am honored to be able to serve as President and will do my best to promote and build agriculture here in Alaska," Mugrage said about his election.

Prior to being elected as the Alaska Farm Bureau President, Scott has served as Delta Chapter President, Director on the State Farm Bureau Board and as Vice-President for the Alaska Farm Bureau.

2019 Board of Directors:

Copper River Valley:                                             
Joe Buck, Vice-President

Scott Mugrage, President
Paul Knopp

Jerry Marlow
Fritz Wozniak

Kenai Peninsula:
Rita Jo Shoultz, Secretary/Treasurer
Beth Van Sandt

Lorne White

Paula Williams
Carol Kenley

Bruce Willard Scholarship Auction : we raised $7950 between the silent & outcry auctions this year!  Thank you to everyone who donated items and bid on the items!

2019 Priorities

  • Increase agriculture education programs in schools through matching grants to schools that receive funds from the Farm Bill's micro grant program
  • Defend sheep & goat owners from legislation implementing unnecessary regulations
  • Confidentiality of Animal and Crop Records
  • Funding for the Nutritional Alaska Foods in Schools program
  • Infrastructure needs for ag - Totchaket Bridge
  • Improve success of Product Preference Program for Alaska Grown items

Photo Contest Winners

Farm Scenery Winner

Dandelions and Tractor
Photo Credit: Rachel Helken
Country Children and People's Choice

Zucchini Smile
Photo Credit:  Paulette Selkirk

Farm Animals Winner

It's Spring?! 
Photo Credit: 
Jane Conway


January 24-27: Alaska Peony Conference - Lands End Resort, Homer, AK -  

February 15-17: Southeast Alaska Farmer Summit - Sheldon Jackson Campus, Sitka, AK -  

February 18: Produce Grower Safety Training - Aspen Suites Hotel, Sitka, AK -  

March 8-9: Alaska Food Festival & Conference - Lands End Resort, Homer, AK -  

Legislative Session Begins

The 31 st Legislature gaveled into the 2019 Legislative session on Tuesday, January 15 th .  We look forward to working with legislators on policies that help build agriculture in Alaska. offers great ways to follow along with the Legislature: track bills, watch meetings, look up Legislators and more.

Bills relating to agriculture:


Are you ready for tax season?

In what shape are your financial records? Did you faithfully keep the financial information for your farm business throughout the year? Or are you now scrambling to find receipts and invoices? Regardless your approach to record keeping, it is now tax season. Tax preparers are starting to meet with clients, especially farmers.
Do you really understand the rules about farm income taxes? You can better manage your income tax liabilities - think lower taxes - if you have a basic understanding of how farm income is reported and what expenses can be deducted on your income tax return. Further, you can ask better questions of your tax preparer so that you can better manage your finances in the future. It is always better to ask questions before you make a financial decision. The adage "it is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission" is not widely accepted by the Internal Revenue Service.
A follow-up question might be can I use my farm financial records for more than filing my income taxes? The answer is a definite yes! You can analyze your financial information to determine if your farm was truly profitable and which enterprise made the most money. While there are several calculators available at and other web sites, they can be overwhelming without some basic understanding of how to use them and of what the results are saying.
You will have an opportunity to learn more about farm income taxes and other uses for your farm financial records at annual conference of the Alaska Peony Growers Association. RightRisk has conducted educational programs in Alaska for the past seven years, and many Alaskan farmers know Jeff Tranel and John Hewlett.
Jeff Tranel will talk about "understanding your ag income taxes" in Homer at the APGA conference. Jeff, an agricultural and business economist with Colorado State University and owner of RightRisk, works with farmers and ranchers throughout the U.S. on these two topics. He sits on the National Farm Income Tax Task Force and conducts numerous workshops annually and coaches individual farm families in the area of estate planning and business succession.
John Hewlett will show people how to use their farm financial records to determine if their farm enterprises are generating profits. His interactive presentation will help participants understand how to use their financial information for a purpose other than just filing income tax returns. John, in addition to being an owner of RightRisk, is a farm and ranch management specialist at the University of Wyoming. He has a long history of helping agricultural producers understand what their financial records are telling them about their businesses.
All Alaskan farmers can learn to better manage their finances and income taxes by attending a RightRisk workshop. Please come, learn, and have fun learning about these important topics.
other uses for your farm financial records at two up-coming workshops and at the annual conference of the Alaska Peony Growers Association. 

Alaska Farm Bureau
37075 Nicholas View Lane 
Soldotna, AK 99669

Call  907-252-5064 or send an  e-mail to:

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