DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The value of farmland in Iowa is up again this year reaching a new high at a time when many observers expect values to drop due to falling commodity prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in a new report released Friday the average value of an acre of cropland in Iowa rose 9.4 percent from a year ago to a new record $8,750.
The value of farm real estate — a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms — climbed 10.4 percent to $8,500 an acre. Iowa leads the nation in the value of farmland and buildings with a total value of $235.6 billion. That’s up nearly 18 percent.
The annual report is based on producer surveys completed in the first two weeks of June.
A southwest Iowa cattle producer has been selected as the Region 3 winner of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s program that highlights exceptional work done by cattle producers to protect and enhance the environment. Officials with the NCBA report Nichols Farms, LTD., of Bridgewater, was announced as the Region 3 winner in the Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver on Thursday (July 31st). The family farm operation is managed by Dave Nichols, Phyllis Nichols and Lillian Nichols, and covers Adair, Adams and Cass counties.
Nichols Farms, an internationally known seedstock producer and a cow-calf operation, will compete for the national ESAP title with six other regional winners. The national winner will be announced during the Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in San Antonio, TX, in February 2015.
The area where the Nichols both own and rent land is known as Iowa’s Hungry Canyons area, which is identified with deep cut gullies and stream trenching. Over 70% of the farmland managed by the Nichols (some owned, some rented) has been designated as highly erodible. While it’s typical for the area to have row crops grown on nearly 70% of the land, Nichols Farms has 46% of the farmland in row crops, and 54% in grassland and pasture production.
The NCBA says the work by cattlemen and women to protect their natural resources helps to improve the environmental sustainability of the beef industry. Those efforts also help this year’s regional winners improve the land for future cattle producers, a goal shared by each of these operations.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Friday) encouraged Iowans to take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables available at the more than 220 farmers markets in Iowa as part of National Farmers Market Week, which runs from Aug. 3 to 9.
“We continue to see growing demand for fresh locally grown produce and farmers markets are a great place to find healthy and delicious Iowa grown fruits, vegetables, meats and other products,” Northey said. “National Farmers Market Week, and every week, is a great time to visit your local farmers market to support the vendors who are there and enjoy some of the great food grown in this state.”
As part of National Farmers Market Week, Northey highlighted the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. These programs provide eligible low-income seniors as well as women and children in Iowa with checks that can be redeemed for fresh, locally grown produce at authorized farmers markets and farm stands from June 1 through October 31, 2014.
Northey also encouraged Iowans to take advantage of the free Iowa Farmers Market app for smartphones that can help Iowans locate the farmers markets in their area. The app allows users to find the farmers market closest to them by using GPS location services or to search for specific farmers markets by city or zip code. Once they have located a market, the user can view the hours of the market, browse a list of vendors and see a phone number and email address of the market manager. App users can also leave reviews of the market and vendors and upload their photos to share with others.
The app is free to download and is available through Apple’s App store and Google Play by searching “Iowa Farmers Markets.” The app was developed for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship using funds from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
After a rainy June and a cool July, Iowa’s starting August almost entirely drought-free. A new report from the National Drought Mitigation Center finds only parts of three counties in far southwest Iowa are still in the very lowest level of drought. Center climatologist Brian Fuchs says all of those heavy downpours in June were a big benefit to Iowa, though they came at a cost. “Not only did we get the rain across the state but associated with that was the severe weather with a lot of wind, a lot of hail, even some tornadoes,” Fuchs says.
“The recovery was influenced by these storms which also brought another form of destruction. Yeah, we put a dent in the drought but we had some suffering in other areas as well.” Governor Branstad is asking President Obama to declare 22 more Iowa counties federal disaster areas from damage sustained in storms from June 26th through July 7th. Thirty-five counties statewide have already been designated federal disaster areas for earlier storms, flooding and tornadoes. While 96 of Iowa’s 99 counties are now drought-free, the latest national picture shows drought is still very much a problem for wide sections of the country.
Fuchs says, “There has been some improvement but much of that improvement has been in the Midwest and Central Plains, the area from Nebraska and Kansas and Iowa and Missouri and Illinois where we have had the abundance of moisture but in that same period, we have seen that drought developing and expanding out in the western U.S.” Drought still plagues a large portion of the country, especially the southwestern and western United States, from California and Nevada to Texas and Oklahoma.
Fuchs says, “A little over a third of the country still is seeing some drought and a little over 10% of the country is seeing extreme drought right now.” The latest survey shows parts of three southwest Iowa counties are “abnormally dry,” the lowest category on the drought monitor: Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont.
DES MOINES – The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission will consider adopting rules for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) at its Aug. 19 meeting. Commissioners moved the meeting to the Wallace State Office Building Auditorium, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines.
If adopted, the rules will incorporate by reference the federal rules that require CAFOs to comply with national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits. The Iowa Legislature directed adopting the federal rules. Adoption was also a condition of a work plan agreement signed between the DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sept.11, 2013.
The federal rules require confinement feeding operations that are CAFOs and discharge to waters of the U.S. to seek an NPDES permit. Generally, confinements are animal feeding operations that are totally roofed. The U.S. EPA defines a large CAFO as one that confines at least 1,000 cattle or cow/calf pairs, 700 mature dairy cattle, 2,500 finishing swine or 55,000 turkeys.
In other business, commissioners will be asked to approve contracts for watershed projects, statewide groundwater analysis and a food waste study.
The meeting begins at 10 a.m. with public comments to follow. The meeting is open to the public.
Cass County: Corn $3.45, Beans $12.41
Adair County: Corn $3.42, Beans $12.44
Adams County: Corn $3.42, Beans $12.40
Audubon County: Corn $3.44, Beans $12.43
East Pottawattamie County: Corn $3.48, Beans $12.41
Guthrie County: Corn $3.47, Beans $12.45
Montgomery County: Corn $3.47, Beans $12.43
Shelby County: Corn $3.48, Beans $12.41
Oats $3.36 (always the same in all counties)
STRAWBERRY POINT, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa government official says the state’s plan to use goats to clear away vegetation is an initial success. Iowa Department of Natural Resources supervisor Mike Steuck tells KCRG-TV the 60 goats have been munching away for two weeks at the Ensign Hollow state wildlife area near Strawberry Point. He said Wednesday that the goats have cleared more than three acres of giant ragweed, stinging nettles, wild parsnip, poison ivy and other undesirable species.
The animals were enlisted to graze seven of the 40 acres in the area. The DNR is paying the goat’s owner $2,000 for the trail project, which includes the goats’ return visit this fall. Steuck says the success of the state’s goat plan hinges on how much vegetation grows back by next year.
The community of Carson, in Pottawattamie County, is hoping you’ll get into the cowboy spirit and mosey on over to watch some of the craziest eight-seconds ever, during their annual rodeo. The 37th Annual Carson Community Rodeo is scheduled to take place from Thursday, July 31st to August 2nd. The event hosts Mutton Bustin’ every night starting at 8-p.m., followed by professional riders doing their best not to get bucked off by the bulls. Sherm Rotten, Vice President of the Carson Rodeo, says Thursday is kid’s night.
“Thursday night we also have a stick horse race for the kids and I think the first one hundred through the gates get a Carson Rodeo get a wristband they can have. It’s just kind of a good fun, family night.”)
He says the numbers continue to increase. “We end up with over 30 bull riders and almost 30 saddle bronc riders so we are real pleased with that. That’s the third year in a row our numbers have been up so it should be a good show for everybody.”
On Friday, Carson will feature a street dance after the rodeo on Main Street of Carson and Saturday starts with the Carson parade at 10:30-a.m. “It’s a really good parade mainly because the shriners come over for us and make up half the parade. They just have a lot of neat stuff, old cars, motorcycles and acts going through there.”
Carson also features the 33rd annual Country Showdown musical event on Saturday evening before the rodeo. The Carson Rodeo was named Best Small Rodeo of the Year for 10 years by the PRCA but Rotten says with the numbers increase Carson isn’t considered a small rodeo any longer. “We jumped up a class and that’s part of the reason we got a few more cowboys. We put some added money in so we are no longer considered a small rodeo now we are a medium sized rodeo.”
Tickets can be purchased in advance at many locations across southwest Iowa at $10 a piece for adults and $4 for kids or the day of the event for $13 and $5 respectively. You can find more information and the nearest location by visiting www.carsonrodeo.com.
Although cases of West Nile virus are typically seen in early autumn in Iowa, three cases of the illness have already been reported in the state. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), current surveillance data shows one case each in Clay, Monona, and Woodbury counties. Sentinel sites have also collected mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus in Central Iowa. The IDPH reminds Iowans to protect themselves against mosquito bites, the way by which West Nile virus is transmitted.
IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says “There has been a lot of media attention on the Chikungunya virus, another mosquito transmitted disease. No cases of Chikungunya have been reported in Iowa; however, it’s important to remember that the best way to avoid Chikungunya, West Nile virus, or other mosquito-borne diseases is to protect and prevent – protect yourself against mosquito bites and prevent mosquitoes from breeding by getting rid of the places they lay eggs.”
She offers these tips to protect yourself:
Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.
Eliminate standing water around the home because that’s where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change water in bird baths every three to four days.
Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of people infected become seriously ill and rarely someone dies. Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds. In 2013, there were 44 human cases of West Nile virus and zero deaths.
To see the latest surveillance report on Lyme disease and to learn more about how to prevent it, visit http://bit.ly/Ux5ZgW.