KJAN Ag/Outdoor

From County extension to conservation to grain prices, we provide lots of information every day on KJAN.  Here is some of that information on the web too!  We hope you find it useful.

Spending cuts trump farm subsidies for many voters

Ag/Outdoor

February 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) — Promoting farm subsidies was once a no-brainer for rural members of Congress seeking re-election. This year, it’s a bit trickier. As lawmakers wade cautiously into writing the next five-year farm bill, agribusiness and farmers’ lobbyists are preparing for the worst. With little appetite for spending on Capitol Hill, subsidy cuts in the billions of dollars are on the table as rural voters also cry out for less government. It doesn’t help that farm business is booming. “What’s different this time is we have very strong commodity prices,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “And that is generally not a really good time to write a farm bill because everyone who is projecting the future says, ‘Oh, this is going to last forever.’”

Farm bills in 2002 and 2008 also were driven by rural election-year politics. Lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, curried favor with farm interests in their states by slipping their priorities into the bills. Taking care of everyone’s needs ensured passage and subsidies remained almost untouched. But this year, many of farmers’ traditional allies are just as concerned, if not more concerned, about voters’ calls for less spending. Sen. Pat Roberts, senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee and a veteran of many farm bills, says his constituents aren’t asking about farm subsidies as much as they used to. He says he gets more questions about government regulations that farmers see as burdensome. Traditional farm issues and the impact of farm policy have gotten somewhat lost. “I don’t think most people who run for office realize there is still a significant farm vote,” he says.

Nowhere was that more clear than in Iowa, where presidential candidates have wooed farm country for decades. Several of the contenders in the Iowa caucuses actually spoke out against corn-based ethanol, a position unthinkable in the past. Farm-state members have already said they will support eliminating some subsidies. Last fall, the heads of the House and Senate agriculture committees — Republican Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan — negotiated a farm bill that cut $23 billion from agriculture and nutrition programs, hoping to piggyback it on the budget-cutting supercommittee’s bill. When the supercommittee fizzled, so did their hopes for a speedy farm bill.

This year, they are starting over with more input from other agriculture committee members. But direct payments, a type of subsidy paid without regard to crop price or crop yield and costing taxpayers about $5 billion a year, are still a top target as the Senate Agriculture Committee opens hearings on the legislation Wednesday. That was cemented by President Barack Obama’s call to eliminate them in his budget proposal Monday, which put forth a $32 billion cut in farm programs. That’s a strong contrast from 2008, when Obama supported the last farm bill while he was campaigning for president. That legislation was far more generous — even raising some subsidies — than the bill Congress is weighing this year.

Farm Service Agency rolls out smartphone website

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers and ranchers seeking information from the Farm Service Agency can do so more easily using smartphones with a new optimized website. The technology improvements, announced Friday, will allow users to access information on loan deficiency payments, updated prices, agency news releases and other services. The mobile version organizes the website information to make it easy for reading on a small, handheld screen. Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse says as more farmers and ranchers are using mobile devices and high-tech tools, so the government must keep up. The FSA’s mobile website is at: www.fsa.usda.gov/mobile .

LEARN HOW TO BE A VOLUNTEER WILDLIFE MONITOR

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

What do bald eagles, great blue herons and bullfrogs have in common? They are three of many species which benefit every year from the efforts of Iowa’s volunteer wildlife monitors! These volunteers make a big impact by contributing a small amount of time to studying our native wildlife. Last year, our volunteers monitored bald eagle nests, waterbird rookeries, falcon eyries and amphibian habitats. We hope to expand this program with the addition of new volunteers in 2012.

 Interested in becoming a certified volunteer wildlife monitor? The DNR is looking for volunteers comfortable with technology, have good note-taking skills, enjoy observing wildlife and want to enjoy the outdoors. First-time volunteers must sign up for one of our educational workshops. A $10 registration fee pays for training materials, a meal, subscription to our newsletter, a frog and toad call CD or bird identification guide and certification costs. 

During each workshop participants will be oriented with the history and purpose of the program, trained in monitoring techniques, familiarized with the natural history of the animals to be monitored and provided the opportunity to practice newly acquired skills in a short field lab session. Registration forms are available on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/volunteerwildlifemonitoring.

Among the locations for the 2012 Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program Workshops is: 

Page County – March 11

2039 Highway 71 North, Clarinda, IA 51632

10:00 am to 4:30 pm

USDA Report 02-09-2012

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

February 9th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Denny Heflin

Play

Cass County Extension Report 02-08-2012

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

February 8th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olsen talking about healthy lifestyle initiatives.

Play

Walleye tagging helps DNR manage fish population

Ag/Outdoor

February 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) — A system for netting and tagging walleye is helping Iowa Department of Natural Resources biologists track and study population trends of the fish that is one of the most popular game species in North America. For 21 years the DNR has netted walleye in Northern Iowa lakes during April to tag them. It has built a database of about 24,000 walleyes. The database allows biologists to track annual abundance, survival and growth rates It also is used to support research projects aimed at improving walleye fisheries.

DNR Biologist Jonathan Meerbeek says the agency bases management decisions, like regulations or stocking rates, on several years of data to maintain adequate fishing supplies. The state’s record walleye catch was 14 pounds, eight ounces, caught in September 1986 in the Des Moines River.

Baudler says NRCS overstepped its authority with regard to lead shot

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Greenfield Republican Representative Clel Baudler says he was pleased the Iowa House this week approved a resolution that would overturn a ban on the use of lead shot, when hunting doves.  Baudler and others who backed the resolution, say the Natural Resources Commission overstepped its authority in July 2011, when it wrote rules governing the hunting of doves, which was legalized by the legislature last year. The resolution was approved by a vote of 68 to 27 Thursday, and now goes on to the Senate, where approval is likely.

Baulder says “It’s a very emotional issue for some people, but if we don’t keep our legislative authority, we’ll just govern by commissions that are appointed, not elected. This is not the way our government works, or should work.” He says approval of the resolution should “Send a message to our un-elected commissions, that those commissions should work with legislators,”  or the legislators will overturn their authority.

Backers of the ban on lead shot say other animals can eat the lead shot, and that can lead to their sickness or even death.

States included in Michael Foods egg recall

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

 MINNETONKA, Minn. (AP) – Michael Foods, of Minnetonka, Minn., is recalling hard-cooked eggs in brine sold in 10- and 25-pound pails to food distributors and manufacturers for institutional use in 34 states, including: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

“Great Backyard Bird Count” begins in 2 weeks

Ag/Outdoor

February 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass County Conservation Board say the annual Great Backyard Bird Count will get underway in about two weeks. The event is hosted by The National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. The results provide a snapshot of the whereabouts of more than 600 bird species. 

Anyone can participate in the free event and no registration is needed. All you need to do is watch and count birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count, from February 17th through the 20th, 2012. Enter your results at www.birdcount.org, where you can watch as the tallies grow across the continent. The four-day count typically records more than 10 million observations.

USDA Announces CRP General Sign-up

Ag/Outdoor

February 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Michael Scuse says that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a four-week Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general signup, beginning on March 12 and ending on April 6. CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States.

“It is USDA’s goal to ensure that we use CRP to address our most critical resource issues,” said Scuse. “CRP is an important program for protecting our most environmentally sensitive lands from erosion and sedimentation, and for ensuring the sustainability of our groundwater, lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. As always, we expect strong competition to enroll acres into CRP, and we urge interested producers to maximize their environmental benefits and to make cost-effective offers.”

CRP is a voluntary program available to agricultural producers to help them use environmentally sensitive land for conservation benefits. Producers enrolled in CRP plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve the quality of water, control soil erosion and develop wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. Contract duration is between 10 and 15 years. Producers with expiring contracts and producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP. Producers also are encouraged to look into CRP’s other enrollment opportunities offered on a continuous, non-competitive, signup basis.

Currently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP; and contracts on an estimated 6.5 million acres will expire on Sept. 30, 2012. Offers for CRP contracts are ranked according to the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) collects data for each of the EBI factors based on the relative environmental benefits for the land offered. Each eligible offer is ranked in comparison