KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Pat Grassley out, Gaesser and Lang to compete for GOP nomination for state ag secretary

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 23rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

State Representative Pat Grassley — the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley — has announced he plans to seek reelection to the Iowa House. The move ends speculation the younger Grassley is hoping the governor named him state ag secretary whenever current Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey leaves for a job in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has for months been blocking a confirmation vote for Northey in the U.S. Senate. Two OTHER Republicans have already announced they plan to run for state ag secretary in 2018. Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning who’s a former president of the American Soybean Association, launched his bid last week. “Strong family farms build a strong, healthy community and grow a strong, healthy Iowa,” Gaesser says. “And I will work with farmers, with legislators, with citizens to share that message that we’re all in this together and we all have responsibilities that we can share.”

Gaesser says the goal should be a “responsible, but profitable” agricultural sector. Gaesser Farms has been nearly 100 percent no-till since 1991 and Gaesser says his family plants cover crops on about half of their corn and soybean ground. “Our goal on our farm is to have 100 percent,” Gaesser says. “We just see real value in conserving the soil, giving that blanket of protection for Mother Nature in our soil that is needed and building organic matter, sequestering nutrients, all those things of being a benefit from the practice.”

In late October, former Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang announced he’s running for the Republican Party’s 2018 nomination for state ag secretary. Lang is a farmer from Brooklyn who also has served as president of the Iowa Board of Regents. No Democrat has stepped forward to announce plans to seek the elected post of state ag secretary.

(Radio Iowa)

Operator of ‘Early Morning Harvest’ honored by Practical Farmers of Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 22nd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

A Guthrie County farmer, who’s resisted using synthetic chemicals for nearly two decades, is this year’s recipient of the Practical Farmers of Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award. Earl Hafner of Panora was honored by the group Friday night at its annual meeting in Ames. Hafner recalled his decision to abandon chemicals in the late 1990s, saying the label “certified organic” quickly paid off. “People start calling you because the demand is so high…marketing is not hard because people, once they find out you have organic crops, we get all kinds of brokers calling,” Hafner said.

Jeff-and-Earl-Hafner-in-aquaponics-greenhouse

The demand for organic food continues to rise, which is good for Hafner’s bottom line. And while the 71-year-old Hafner likes making DOLLARS, he says going chemical-free just made SENSE. “I just remember when I was a kid in the 1940s and 50s very few, if any, chemicals were used. We would walk the beans and we didn’t have near the weeds in the beans that we do know,” Hafner said. Hafner farms with his son, Jeff. Their operation, called Early Morning Harvest, covers 2,000 acres and includes certified organic row crops, grass-fed cattle, hogs, and pastured poultry for egg production. The father and son also run a grain mill and an aquaponics greenhouse that includes tilapia (teh-LAH-pee-uh) — fish raised for food.

“The grain mill was my hobby and the greenhouse with tilapia was Jeff’s hobby and, you know, those hobbies just kind of went wild,” Hafner said with a laugh. “We just kept growing and expanding. “You wouldn’t think that tilapia would be in such demand, people know exactly where they’ve come from and what they’ve been fed, so there’s no river contamination or anything like that.”

The Hafner’s diversified farm also produces honey and vegetables.

(Radio Iowa)

Posted County Grain Prices: 1/22/2018

Ag/Outdoor

January 22nd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Cass County: Corn $3.07, Beans $9.10
Adair County: Corn $3.04, Beans $9.13
Adams County: Corn $3.04, Beans $9.09
Audubon County: Corn $3.06, Beans $9.12
East Pottawattamie County: Corn $3.10, Beans $9.10
Guthrie County: Corn $3.09, Beans $9.14
Montgomery County: Corn $3.09, Beans $9.12
Shelby County: Corn $3.10, Beans $9.10

Oats $2.43 (always the same in all counties)

(Information from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency offices)

Upcoming Cass County Conservation Board events

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 21st, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Conservation Board has a couple of events for you to mark on your calendar. A Full Moon Owl Prowl Hike will be held at the Cold Springs Park in Lewis,  on Thursday February 1st 2018 at 7 PM. And, a Sweethearts Snowshoe Hike will be held at the Pellett Memorial Woods outside of Atlantic, on February 17th 2018 at 7 PM.

Come out for a great night hike, who knows what nature has waiting for you! The Full Moon will light the way! Together, you and Conservation staff will hike and try to call in various species of Owls that may be in the park that night! All ages are welcome!

Snowshoes (in a variety of sizes) will be available for the Showshoe Hike. The event WILL be CANCELLED with “NO SNOW!” Both events FREE, Dress for the weather!

Officials say cuts hurt DNR’s ability to protect environment

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 20th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state commission told lawmakers repeated cuts to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources threatened its ability to protect the state’s air and water as the reductions have forced the agency to leave more than 100 positions vacant.

The Des Moines Register reports the Environmental Protection Commission’s annual report to the Legislature noted the DNR’s budget had been cut nearly in half, from $22 million in 2009 to $11.17 million in the current budget year. The cuts have come amid increasing concerns about the state’s polluted waterways.

The DNR handles permitting for livestock operation, enforces state and federal air and water regulations, licenses hunting and fishing and manages parks, forests and trails.

Agency cuts have come as state revenue shortfalls have forced lawmakers to repeatedly cut the budget.

US government proposes new rules for hog slaughter

Ag/Outdoor

January 19th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The federal government wants to change the rules on how most hogs slaughtered for meat in the U.S. are processed. Some of the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposals released Friday are similar to those enacted in 2014 for poultry processors. One rule allows pork processors to voluntarily enact a new inspection system placing plant employees in charge of removing animals unfit for slaughter, and allows companies to set their own processing line speeds.

The USDA says the proposed rules would streamline production without compromising food safety. Critics say similar poultry industry changes gave companies too much control over food safety. Another proposed rule would require processing plants to implement new procedures for preventing bacterial contamination of meat.

The USDA is taking comments and has no date set for implementation.

Ag group outlines its wishes for next farm bill

Ag/Outdoor

January 19th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The Center for Rural Affairs is rolling out its platform for the next farm bill. Anna Johnson, a policy associate for the center, says they want the massive new package of agricultural legislation to include a higher premium subsidy for those farmers who use conservation methods. “One proposal that’s in our platform is to reward farmers for practicing good stewardship by offering them a relatively higher premium subsidy,” Johnson says. “If you’re practicing conservation on your land, that means that you can qualify for the government to kick in more support on your premium.”

Another provision in the organization’s platform would allow farmers who employ certain conservation methods to get full crop insurance benefits. “Planting cover crops, for example, is not under the umbrella of what’s called ‘good farming practices,’ it’s in its own special category under crop insurance,” Johnson says. “Sometimes, when farmers are planting cover crops, they get penalized on their crop insurance or it becomes harder for them to file claims, so we want to eliminate that confusion and simplify crop insurance procedures.”

Johnson says they also want crop insurance payments limited. “The government covers about two-thirds of that, on average, and we’ve got a proposal in here to cap that number,” she says. “It’s called a crop insurance premium subsidy and we’re proposing to cap it at $50,000 per operation. This is a proposal that’s been kicked around in previous farm bills.”

Johnson says it’s important the new farm bill has a strong conservation program with more funding for CSP and EQIP and a strong, well-rounded safety net. She says those wanting to know more about the farm bill platform can find it on the Center for Rural Affairs website: www.cfra.org. The center is based in Lyons, Nebraska.

(Radio Iowa, w/Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)

Tax law gives unexpected break to farmers who sell to co-ops

Ag/Outdoor

January 18th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Key senators and farm groups are trying to fix a provision in the federal tax overhaul that gave an unexpected tax break to farmers who sell their crops to cooperatives instead of other buyers.

The provision from Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and John Hoeven of North Dakota surfaced in the final days of the debate over the tax bill. Companies that aren’t co-ops include local grain companies as well as agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ADM.

The senators say they didn’t intend to give co-ops and their farmer-members a competitive advantage over other companies. They say they just wanted to make sure farmers’ taxes didn’t rise.

But observers say it’s not clear if a fix can pass, given the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

Two juveniles arrested in vandalism to bee hives in Sioux City

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 17th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Sioux City police say tips from the public have led to the arrest of two boys in the destruction of honeybee hives last month. The unidentified boys — ages 12 and 13 — are suspected of the burglary and vandalism at the Wild Hill Honey operation on December 27th. All of the company’s hives were destroyed and half million bees perished in the cold. The boys are charged with felony criminal mischief, third-degree burglary, agricultural animal facility offenses and possession of burglary tools. Damage to the business was estimated at more than 60-thousand dollars. No further arrests are anticipated.

(Radio Iowa)

New Youth Coordinator hired for Montgomery County Extension

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 17th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Extension Council and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach have announced the hiring of Celine Beggs as Montgomery County’s Youth Coordinator.  Beggs began work on December 19th. As the County Youth Coordinator, her primary duties are to strengthen youth development through research-based education and interactive learning opportunities. Beggs will coordinate the planning and implementation of 4-H development and youth outreach programs, such as summer day camps, babysitting clinics, afterschool programs, Family Fun Night and more. As an integral part of the 4-H program, she will focus on positive youth development by establishing community partnerships, supporting volunteers, county youth council, 4-H youth and committee and other project committees.

Celine Beggs is originally from Taylor County, Iowa where she was a member of the Bedford Downtowners 4-H Club and the Taylor County Senior Council. She is a Fall 2017 graduate of Kansas State University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in both Agricultural Communications and Journalism and Agricultural Economics, with an emphasis in leadership development. Beggs is enthusiastic about the 4-H program and brings in various experiences which will help her create sustainable programs for the county.

Celine Beggs

Beggs will work closely with Montgomery County’s 4-H program and coworkers, Rachel Bergren, Program Coordinator and office assistant Angela Silva, as well as other Field Specialists serving Montgomery County. Please stop by the Montgomery County Extension Office and welcome Celine to her new position! Feel free to contact her at cmbeggs@iastate.edu or 712-623-2592 regarding any questions you may have about Montgomery County’s 4-H program and other resources available through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in Montgomery County. Extension resources are always available at www.extension.iastate.edu/montgomery.  Be sure to “Like” Montgomery County-IA Extension on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.