As the nation’s largest outdoor farm equipment show kicks off today in Boone, one issue in the spotlight is the nation’s largest conservation program. More than 1,400 farms across Iowa and 20,000 farms across the nation are up for renewal for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Matt Russell with Practical Farmers of Iowa says the Conservation Stewardship Program is a working lands program, not a “set aside.” “It’s the whole farm in most cases, all of the conservation practices put together on working lands and then taking those and adding some enhancements,” says Russell.
Through the CSP, participants take additional steps to improve soil, water, and air quality. In the first five years of the program, nearly 60 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled nationwide. Russell says his farm in Marion County has implemented rotational grazing and cover crop practices, along with wildlife areas. They’ve also gone chemical-free, but Russell notes CSP allows for an approach that is greatly flexible and individualized.
“It is farm specific and farmer specific,” he says. “Everything that’s in your contract does improve conservation on your land, but you get to choose based on what your production model is, and what your own interests are in terms of conservation or stewardship.”
For the first class of CSP participants, the window to apply to re-enroll will end on September 12th, while a general sign-up will be coming this fall. More information is available at the Practical Farmers of Iowa website, or through one of the many offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service across the state.
(Iowa News Service)
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Saturday marks the opening day of the annual hunting season for cottontail rabbits as well as fox and gray squirrels. The Department of Natural Resources says hunters should see more rabbits than last year, especially in southern Iowa. The cottontail season runs through February.
The squirrel season also begins Saturday, and DNR forest wildlife coordinator Jim Coffey says numbers should be about the same as last year. The squirrel season continues through Jan. 31.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Three Iowa farm trade groups have formed an organization called the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance to push farmers harder on the implementation of farm practices designed to clean Iowa’s water. The group’s goal is to get more farmers to participate in the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a voluntary program initiated Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration.
Environmental groups including Iowa Citizens for Community improvement want measurable and enforceable standards. They say the new alliance will do little to improve Iowa water. Iowa CCI says it’s a corporate public relations campaign that won’t change a thing.
Branstad announced the creation of the alliance Monday with officials from Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
The soybean group’s CEO Kirk Leeds is board chairman of the nonprofit alliance.
A world’s fair of what’s happening in agriculture comes to the central Iowa town of Boone this week with the 61st annual Farm Progress Show. Dena Morgan, marketing specialist for the event, expects up to 100-thousand people to tour the grounds during the three-day event, which starts tomorrow (Tuesday). Morgan says, “All of the major exhibitors will be here, Deere, Case, New Holland, AGCO, Monsanto, Syngenta, just about every company or any product or service that has to do with agriculture will have somebody here.”
When the show started in the 1950s, the event moved between Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. In 2005, it was decided the show would be held in Boone and Decatur, Illinois every other year. The permanent facility in Boone continues to expand. “When the show site was originally built in 2008 we had 12 streets,” Morgan says. “In 2012, we sold out of all that exhibit space so we added this 13th street. This year, we have oversold that area and had to create an annex.”
That annex in the north parking lot area includes 40 new exhibitors who haven’t been to the show before, including Caterpillar and McCormick. The show is located near Highway 30 and Highway 17 east of Boone.
Learn more at www.farmprogressshow.com
LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — The folks at the Farmers’ Almanac are feeling a bit smug after correctly predicting the past nasty winter, which featured relentless snowstorms and a polar vortex. Editors of the 198-year-old publication in Maine are projecting more of the same in a few months. The latest edition officially goes on sale this week. It forecasts colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for three-quarters of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.
The publication, not to be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer’s Almanac, bases its long-range forecasts on a secret formula based on sunspots, planetary positions and lunar cycles. Modern science doesn’t put much stock in the formula, but modern meteorologists sometimes struggle with long-range forecasts. The national Climate Prediction Center projected milder weather last winter.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says he isn’t worried about farmer profitability this year, when huge corn and soybean crops have pushed prices for the commodities below the cost of production. Vilsack tells The Associated Press that many U.S. farmers have contracts that will pay $4 or $5 a bushel of corn and about $13 for a bushel of soybeans, so they should be OK.
He also notes that lower commodity prices will help livestock producers, who in recent years have struggled with the high cost of feed. For those who won’t earn enough to cover their costs, he notes the farm bill offers aid so farmers can survive difficult years.
Vilsack spoke with the AP after touring a food processing company in Marshalltown with U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley.
MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Deere & Co. has announced hundreds of layoffs at its tractor factory in Waterloo. The Illinois-based agricultural equipment maker says about 460 workers will be laid off effective October 20. Deere said last week that it would lay off more than 600 employees at four Midwest factories that make harvesting and other agricultural equipment due to slumping demand. That layoff includes another Iowa plant, in Ankeny.
The company said earlier this month that it planned to reduce agricultural equipment production for the remainder of the year. Company shares are down 63 cents to $85.58 in early trading.
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is returning to Iowa to announce federal grants designed to encourage development of new value-added farm products and to discuss other rural development funding programs. Vilsack, accompanied by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, will travel to a dairy operation in Ely in eastern Iowa and a food cooperative in Marshalltown.
They’ll announce recipients of Value-Added Producer Grants for Iowa businesses. Money for the grants was increased in the 2014 Farm Bill. They also will discuss the Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants program which provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities that lend funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas.
A survey of Midwestern agricultural lenders conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank finds plenty of wary farmers across Iowa and the region. Nathan Kauffman, with the Omaha branch office of the Fed’s seven-state 10th District, says not too many farmers and livestock producers are worried about this year, but 2015 is another matter. “Thinking about 2014, the crop insurance price for corn, for example, was set at $4.62 which is quite a bit higher than where cash prices are right now,” Kauffman says. “Going into early next year, February will be another important month, just thinking about what the crop insurance price might be set going into next year.”
Kauffman says most rural bankers reported solid credit conditions, but also say farmers are being very cautious about making equipment purchases or other capital outlays. “The important thing to note for now is that it looks like credit quality is still strong,” Kauffman says. “Repayment rates, though they’ve softened a bit, are still relatively strong, although that does present some concerns going forward.”
Analysts say this cautious approach by farmers will cause an economic ripple effect that will be felt by businesses throughout Iowa and across the region.
A deadly virus that’s driving up pork prices as it’s wiped out as many as one in every ten piglets in Iowa in the past year can be spread through hog feed, according to new research. Dr. Scott Dee, the study’s lead author and research director at Minnesota’s Pipestone Veterinary Services, says they were stunned to learn Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, or P-E-D-V, can travel through livestock feed.
“That’s why I think the industry is a little reactive to that, because it’s new, it’s a surprise,” Dee says. “Again, no blame on the feed industry because we’re partners and we have to work together, but we have to realize that it is a potential risk, so we can manage that risk.” Iowa’s first P-E-D-V case was found more than a year ago. Since then, the virus has killed as many as seven-million pigs nationwide.
There have been more than 41-hundred cases reported in 26 states, including more than a thousand cases in Iowa. Dee isn’t sure where the virus originated but believes the study’s findings can help deter future outbreaks. He says the revelation that P-E-D-V travels through feed has shaken the pork industry. “The feed’s the wild card because historically feed hasn’t been a risk factor for disease transfer,” he says. “Now, all of the sudden, we have a pathogen that does. The fact that the feed could potentially be a vehicle was a big surprise.”
The study is being published in the B-M-C Veterinary Research Journal. Later this month, Dee’s team will release a paper on commercially-available feed additives which he says will help in the prevention of P-E-D-V. The Hawkeye State is the nation’s number-one hog producer in an industry worth some six-point-seven billion dollars to the Iowa economy.