KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Plant Some Shade® tree distribution scheduled for Council Bluffs

Ag/Outdoor

April 9th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS – Order forms are now online for MidAmerican Energy Company residential customers in the Council Bluffs area to purchase discounted trees. Through MidAmerican Energy’s Plant Some Shade program, customers can purchase up to two, 2.5- to 10-foot landscape trees for $30 each, including chinkapin oak, northern pin oak, hophornbeam and eastern white pine. Tree order forms are available at www.midamericanenergy.com/ia-res-trees.aspx.  Please contact Pottawattamie County Conservation at (712) 328-5638 before placing your order to ensure availability.

Advance purchase is required. Trees will be available for pickup Saturday, April 28th, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at Harrah’s Casino parking lot, located at 1 Harrah’s Boulevard in Council Bluffs. To ensure all MidAmerican Energy customers have the opportunity to participate, tree purchases are initially limited to two trees per household. In the event additional trees are available on distribution day, they will be released for purchase at 8:30 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis until all trees are sold.

The Plant Some Shade program promotes long-term energy savings by encouraging residents to plant trees around their homes. Strategically placed deciduous trees provide shade on hot summer days, easing the cooling load on air conditioners, while conifers shield homes from blustery Iowa winter winds. Plant Some Shade is funded by MidAmerican Energy in partnership with Pottawattamie County Conservation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Forestry Section.

Iowa producers say ethanol limits would be ‘war’ on rural US

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 6th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa ethanol and biodiesel producers are warning President Donald Trump that imposing restrictions on biofuels production “would be viewed as a declaration of war on rural America.”

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, representing refineries in the nation’s largest biofuels producing state, called on Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst on Friday to reach out to Trump. The refiners use corn, soybeans and animal fat to make biofuels and want the senators to tell Trump limiting biofuel production is a “complete abdication of his repeated promises” to protect biofuels.

The group says it’s heard that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt plans to push Trump on Monday for a proposal that would cut biofuel demand. Farm states, already stinging from Trump’s tariff fight with China, are alarmed he could further hurt ag markets.

Adair County 4-H and FFA Swine Tagging April 4-18

Ag/Outdoor

April 6th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

All Adair County 4-H and FFA members who plan to exhibit swine at the 2018 Adair County Fair must have their pigs tagged by Wednesday, April 18. A letter detailing the process has been sent to exhibitors. Tags, identification sheets, and other papers may be picked up at the Adair County Extension office between 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. County Fair tags are $1.50 each, Iowa State Fair tags are $8.00. There is a $3.00/ head charge for the Lean Value Carcass contest.

For more information about the county and state fair swine tagging requirements and details for classes in the county fair division, please call the Extension office at 641-743-8412 or 1-800-ISUE 399.

DNR conducting nighttime animal surveys

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 5th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will conduct its annual spring wildlife surveys this month. Wildlife research biologist, Jim Coffey says the surveys start around one hour after sunset and can last until just about sunrise. “It’s going to cover what we call our nighttime animals or nocturnal animals — we kind of call it the second shift,” Coffey says.

“It started out in the 70’s as a raccoon survey in a response to that we were over harvesting raccoons — or people thought we were — and they were going to become extinct. And we started to do this survey at that time.” The survey then expanded to include deer and eventually all animals they would see. The information helps them chart how each species is doing.

“What we look at is trends over time and are we seeing animals in the same places or are we seeing animals in different places than we have in the past. How do we see comparatively numbers from not just from last year — but from maybe the last five or tens years — so are we seeing more or less in those areas,” Coffey explains. He says they can used all the statistic to make some predictions about where they should see the various animals. Coffey says the deer survey is one that everyone always pays attention to, but he says the fun part is the diversity of wildlife you can see on a survey run.

“You pick up the occasional animals that we’re not used to seeing. So, we might see a bobcat in a county where we are not used to seeing it in, so it becomes documented that. It’s always fund to get to see some of those odd creatures. If you get to see a grey fox — that’s an anomaly — we know they are out there, we just don’t get to see them very often,” according to Coffey. The surveys are always done in April as Coffey says they try to do them in the same type of weather conditions each year to take that variable out of the equation. They often begin in southern Iowa.

He says they want to be in line with an early spring or late spring. Coffey says they are seeing some green grass and buds appearing in southern Iowa, indicating it’s time to start the surveys. “We also want to time it with the actual humidity and the temperature. Because what we know is animals like raccoons and possums usually don’t like to come out until it gets into the mid 30’s. If it’s too cold they are not going to come out,” Coffey says. He says each D-N-R staff member has their own way of keeping track of the animals they see.

“I’m kind of an old schooler — I still use a pen and paper and I document it on my map. We’ve got some guys who use G-P-S locations and we’ve got some guys who are actually stepping up into the 21st century and are using I-Pads now that will download the data directly into our computer and actually saves us some calculation times,” he says

Coffey says each county has a pre-selected route covering 50 miles of varying habitat. Surveyors will follow the route shining spotlights from both sides of the vehicle to document the animals they see.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County Extension Report 4-4-2018

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

April 4th, 2018 by Jim Field

w/Kate Olson.

Play

Congressman King says US in the beginnings of ‘all out trade war’

Ag/Outdoor

April 4th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Republican Congressman Steve King says he is “uneasy” about the Trump Administration’s moves on trade. “Where we are today is we’re in the beginnings of an all-out trade war,” King says, “and I hope and pray that it is not.” China slapped import duties on dozens of U.S. products Monday, including a 25 percent tariff on pork, as a response to President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum. King says he had a “direct conversation” over the phone with Trump “several months ago” about the importance of trade, including the “complex negotiations” over the North American Free Trade Agreement. “I’m uneasy about where we have gone,” King said. “I would not have initiated any of this, actually. I’ve always been working towards the most stable trade situation we can have that’s going to allow us to increase our exports of agriculture and our exports of manufacturing.”

King says he hopes China concludes it needs the American market and the Trump Administration decides American consumers want cheap Chinese goods, but if neither side “backs off,” King says agriculture will be hurt “a lot.””This is an escalating thing that has the looks of how a trade war begins,” King says. And King predicts a trade war will lead to fewer family farms. “We’ve lost about half of our market value in our commodities from the peak about 10 years ago and that’s caused our producers to spend some of their equity down, especially our young guys that are trying to build that equity so they can sustain themselves through the hard times,” King said. “This is hurting them the most.”

King also says it’s ironic that since a Chinese company bought U.S.-based Smithfield Foods, pork processed in the U.S. by Smithfield will be charged the tariff.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa pork producers’ fears realized with China slapping tariff on US pork

Ag/Outdoor

April 4th, 2018 by Ric Hanson

China’s new tariffs on U-S goods took effect Monday and include pork imports, which could create significant financial trouble for Iowa producers. National Pork Producers Council spokesman Jim Monroe says last year China imported more than one-BILLION dollars worth of American pork. “China is a very important market for us,” Monroe says. “It’s the number-one pork-consuming nation in the world and our industry’s growth is coming from exports.” China’s tariffs are in response to the Trump administration imposing higher taxes on steel and aluminum. Iowa State University economist Wendong Zhang says pork had been slated for a possible second round of tariffs, but in the end, China did just one wave of 128 products — including pork. “I think what the Chinese government wants to do is send a clear message that they are willing to fight,” Zhang says, “and they’re willing to target agricultural products.”

Zhang says the U-S ag sector doesn’t have the political clout in China that it has here to push for exceptions or reductions to the tariffs. China is also upping its taxes on a long list of products, including wine, nuts and fruit, to as much as 25 percent. Financial analyst Russell Barton with UrnerBarry says the new pork tariffs announced by China add up quickly. He says existing import duties and value-added tax were 25 percent and the new duty added to that equals 50 percent. “That’s significant. That probably prohibits quite a bit of trade,” he says.  But Barton says U-S pork producers might not see much of a difference in sales to China, with or without the new tariffs. He says China is not necessarily relying on U-S pork because their domestic supplies have grown and imports were likely to drop a bit regardless of the tariffs.

Barton says China relies on a lot of pork, but China accounted for only about seven percent of U.S. pork exports, totaling about one-point-five percent of the U-S pork supply. And, he says the European Union sells China more than double what U-S does. Barton says the U-S has seen slow expansion in other developing markets, and he’s encouraged by the recent trade agreement with South Korea. Barton says Mexico and Japan continue to be solid markets for U-S pork.

(Radio Iowa; Amy Mayer, Iowa Public Radio and the Brownfield Network both contributed to this story)

Volunteers invited to state park spring clean-up events

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 3rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Several Iowa state parks are hosting spring clean-up events to get ready for the summer season this April and May. Events will be tailored to each park’s needs and could include activities such as litter and branch pick-up, painting, trail work, and clipping back limbs and plants. Todd Coffelt, State Parks bureau chief, says “We greatly appreciate the time and energy our volunteers provide to help take care of Iowa’s parks. Even if you haven’t visited one of these parks, we invite you to come out for an event and spend time outdoors lending a hand.”

Here are some of the (local) state park volunteer events for April and May:

  • Lake Anita State Park, Cass County – April 20, 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Join a DNR naturalist on an earth hike to pick up litter. Participants can also make plant pots from recycled newspaper to plant milkweed seeds and take home. Meet in the campground near the popcorn stand. Contact Anne Riordan at (641) 747-8383.
  • Springbrook State Park, Guthrie County – April 21, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Help remove weeds and a newly established pollinator plot. Activities that day will also celebrate Earth Day week, including art projects and family activities. Meet at the campground gazebo. Contact Anne Riordan at (641) 747-8383.

April 7th | Kellerton Wildlife Area | Prairie-chickens at Dawn!

Ag/Outdoor

April 3rd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Kellerton, Iowa – The first rhythmic and haunting cooing begins as the night sky fades and sunrise begins. The short grass prairie booming grounds prepares for a display found nowhere else in Iowa. This is prairie chicken country and on April 7, it will be the 15th Annual Prairie Chicken Day at the Kellerton Wildlife Management Area, in Ringgold County. Activities originate from the viewing platform on 300th Avenue, southwest of Kellerton. The annual ritual begins as early as mid-March and lasts through April. Male prairie chickens meet at the booming grounds every morning to display, spar and fight with other males trying to catch the eye of the females watching nearby.

“They will be out there until 8 or so, when they begin to slow down,” said Stephanie Shepherd, wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Diversity Program. She said there are typically 20-40 birds that use the lek at Kellerton, and they will display each morning regardless of the weather. The area has an elevated viewing platform to help see all the action. “Some mornings you can hear them and some you can’t. They are out there every day, but are less active if it’s raining or really cloudy,” she said.  While there will be some spotting scopes available to use, attendees are encouraged to bring their own or a set of binoculars.

The prairie chicken population at Kellerton has benefited from a collaboration between the states of Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska, and the Nature Conservancy, Blank Park Zoo and the Ringgold County Conservation Board. The collaboration extended to area producers who help to manage 30 percent of the grasslands through grazing. Some of the partners captured and relocated prairie chickens from Nebraska to the Kellerton area and the Dunn Ranch in northern Missouri to increase bird numbers and introduce new genetics to the population. While others worked to reestablish the rolling grasslands in the area.

“There has been a lot of collaboration to improve the landscape across the state line to recreate 160,000 acres of rolling hills of grass with few trees,” Shepherd said. “This partnership benefits not only the prairie chicken, but other grassland species as well.” One grassland species in particular, the Henslow’s sparrow, has benefited from this partnership. The Henslow’s sparrow is listed as a state threatened species in Iowa but the population at Kellerton is so large the area has been recognized as globally important for this species.

2018 Pottawattamie County Queen Contest Applications Open

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 2nd, 2018 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the East Pottawattamie County Extension service said Monday, the Pottawattamie County Fair is now accepting applications for the 2018 Pottawattamie County Fair Queen and Junior Fair Queen.  All area youth ages 13-15 who are an active member of a service organization in the community may compete for Junior Fair Queen.  All area youth ages 16-21 who are an active member of a service organization in the community may compete for Fair Queen.

The 2018 Pottawattamie County Fair Queen and Junior Fair Queen will be crowned during Family Night at the Pottawattamie County Fair in Avoca, Iowa on Thursday, July 19, 2018.  The crowned 2018 Fair Queen will represent East Pottawattamie County at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa in August to compete for the 2018 Iowa State Fair Queen.

All candidates must complete an application, which can be found on our website, www.iastate.edu/eastpottawattamie along with a list of rules and expectations.  All queen candidates will go through an interview process with judges prior to crowning.  Applications are due to the East Pottawattamie County Extension Office, 321 Oakland Avenue, Oakland, Iowa by 5:00pm on May 15th.