Farmers and ranchers in Iowa now can get notifications from their county Farm Service Agency office through text messages on their cell phones. John Whitaker, director of the Iowa F-S-A office, says whether producers are in the field, on a tractor or even on horseback, this service enables vital notifications to get through.
“What we’re trying to do is get immediate, important messages out to producers, say a deadline that’s approaching or, like last weekend, when we had severe weather and there were livestock losses,” Whitaker says, “just important information they can use right at their fingertips.”
While producers nationwide can sign on to the program, Whitaker says the texts can be sent on a county-by-county basis and all messages will come from your nearest county office. “The idea is, we don’t want you to get messages from the entire country,” he says. “We want these to be very specific to the county office, particularly if it’s something like storm damage or crop reporting or something like that.”
The goal is to quickly disseminate the information producers need. “We don’t spend as much money on paper newsletters as we did years ago,” Whitaker says. “Sometimes, we only send a couple a year instead of one every month. It helps us control our costs when we do that but we want to get the information out to producers in a timely manner.”
Contact your local F-S-A office for details.
The state’s top wine makers will be recognized at a conference in central Iowa next month. Nicole Eilers is spokeswoman for the Iowa Wine Growers Association which is celebrating the state’s best operations. There are nominees for several awards, including the top two. “For Vineyard of the Year, we have Corey Goodhue with North River Valley Vineyard and Victor Rose Vineyard in Indianola,” Eilers says. “For Winemaker of the Year, we have Terry Smith with Summerset Winery and Anne Zwink with Soldier Creek Winery in Fort Dodge.”
The winners of all categories will be announced at the association’s annual conference in Ames. Eilers says Iowa’s wine industry is growing and thriving. “Currently, we have just over 100 wineries and we have nearly 300 vineyards across the state,” Eilers says. “It’s been a time for research on new grapes that grow in the cold climate as well as just fine-tuning wine-making techniques.”
The conference is being held on February 5th and 6th at the Gateway Hotel & Conference Center in Ames. There will be speakers and sessions focused on improving practices and knowledge in enology — the study of wine — as well as viticulture, marketing and business, and industry exhibitors showcasing the latest tools, products and services.
Learn more at : www.iowawinegrowers.org
An Iowan who has been an advisor to Donald Trump during the presidential campaign is moving into the job in the U-S Department of Agriculture. Sam Clovis of Hinton, Iowa was sworn after Trump was sworn in so he can begin his duties.Clovis says they are setting up what they call a beachhead team to ensure they have a smooth transition between the administrations.
Clovis did not go into detail about his specific U-S-D-A duties, but says the Trump administration will be marked by a very conservative agenda. “I’ve been personally involved over the last several weeks of making sure the policy implementation that we are going to see from day one — starting this afternoon forward — I will say without qualification it is the most conservative agenda I have seen come from a Republican presidency in a long time,” Clovis says. “I may be more conservative than Ronald Reagen’s was.”
He does say that President Trump has assured him that biofuels will continue to be a major part of America’s energy plan. “It is our distinct guidance that we keep to an all of the above energy plan,” Clovis says. He says he’s already talked with incoming Energy Secretary Rick Perry about the issue.
Clovis formerly supported the former Texas Governor when Perry ran against Trump early in the G-O-P presidential race. Thousands of protesters opposing Trump lined the streets of Washington today, with some clashing with police. Clovis says he has never seen protests to this level after an election but thinks he partly knows why so many have come to the capitol. He says people are coming to get attention through social media and other media. “And this is why I think they are motivated to do it more than anything else, because it allows them to get the attention across the world,” Clovis says.
Clovis added that he’s disappointed by the number of those who don’t want to reconcile with the fact that Trump is now president. “I honestly don’t think I’ve every seen anything in our history like this where we’ve seen such adamant digging in on the part of the opposition over anything,” Clovis says. “Because I think a lot of has to do with the American people decided — and not the elites in Washington.”
Clovis is a veteran who has run for the U-S Senate, state treasurer, and was also a former professor and radio talk show host.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A northwest Iowa dairy has settled a federal lawsuit and promises action to prevent future manure discharges into nearby streams. Prosecutors also said Thursday that Meadowvale Dairy, of Rock Valley, has agreed to pay a $160,000 civil penalty. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
The lawsuit filed last February alleges that since 2001, Iowa has cited Meadowvale a dozen times for failures to maintain adequate storage for effluent. The complaint says Meadowvale operates waste systems for two interconnected feeding operations for a total of about 10,000 head of cattle. It says wastewater from two of Meadowvale’s facilities entered two tributaries of the Big Sioux River in violation of the dairy’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Bankers across Middle America say depressed farm commodity prices are the biggest threat to the economy this year in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. The overall economic index in a monthly survey of bankers for the region remained in negative territory at 42.8 in January, down slightly from December’s 42.9. Survey officials say any score below 50 suggests an economic decline.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says livestock commodity prices have tumbled by 7.3 percent and grain commodity prices by 11.7 percent in the last year. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
Goss says the rural economy is improving in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota, while all the other states are trending lower.
The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department’s Board of Directors, Tuesday evening, voted to accept from the Lions Club, the donation of a little, one-room school house already located at Sunnyside Park. The Lions Club is currently maintaining the structure, which was built in 1870 and relocated to just off Sunnyside lane, in 1960.
Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm said the Lions want to donate the house to the Parks Department (a non-profit organization), because the Lions (also a non-profit group), want to apply for grants that will enable them to maintain the building (including new siding), and improve the surrounding landscape.
The Parks and Rec Board also agreed with the Schildberg Recreation Area Committee, that 20 electrical pods to be installed at the Rec Area Campground site, should be metal and purchased from Kriz-Davis for around $3,450. That would be less expensive than a marina-style, fiberglass pod that had been proposed.
Seth Staashelm told the Board that the Enhance Iowa CAT grant application (pertaining to improvements at the Schildberg Recreation Area) is finished, and has been submitted to the Enhance Iowa Board.
The thick, spiral bound application spells out the amount of support the application and proposed project has, including matching funds from the City and County, and in-kind labor contributions. He said they hope to receive an invitation to appear before the Enhance Iowa Board, in a couple of weeks and make a presentation, as well as to answer any questions. If the grant is approved by this April, it will help to cover phase 1 of the Schildberg Recreation Area project, which involves electrical and water hook-ups to the camping pads, along with a new storm-safe shower and shelter house.
Staashelm reminds the public that shelter house reservations at one of the five City Parks are being accepted for groups and families. Already there are reservations made to this month. If you would like to reserve a shelter for an event or family get together, you can do so online at the Parks and Rec website (http://www.atlanticiowa.com/atlantic/city-departments/parks-recreation/reserve-a-shelter/) or call Seth Staashelm at 712-243-3542.
Officials with the Iowa DNR report two Minnesota men and one northern Iowa man have pleaded guilty to illegally taking deer in Emmet and Kossuth counties in Iowa in October and November 2015. 45-year old Michael Paschke, of Worthington, Minn., 21-year old Dakota Isebrand, of Sherburn, Minn., and 20-year old Seth Norland, of Ledyard, Iowa, pleaded guilty to 58 wildlife violations including illegal method of take, abandonment of wildlife, hunting by artificial light, no deer license or tag and illegal possession of deer.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Conservation Officers Virginia Schulte and Steve Reighard and DNR Park Ranger Corey McCartan received information that lead them to Paschke’s residence on Dec. 5, 2015, where they discovered deer and deer parts but no deer tags attached to the deer and no licenses to establish that these deer had been taken legally.
The total fines and court costs assessed in Kossuth County were $11,538.75 and $25,000 civil penalty. The total fines and court costs assessed in Emmet County were $1,530 and $10,000 civil penalty.
Each man also lost his hunting privileges for 25 years; three years from DNR for being a multiple offender and 22 years by court ordered suspension. This Iowa suspension also prohibits them from hunting in any of the 44 states that are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact. Four states are in the process of joining the compact.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is taking a job at the U.S. Dairy Export Council. The group is a nonprofit that promotes dairy products. An announcement Tuesday said Vilsack will help “develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy.”
Vilsack is entering the private sector after decades in public service. Before he was appointed agriculture secretary in 2009, he was Iowa’s governor for eight years. He also served in the Iowa state senate and as mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
He was also on Democrat Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential short list. She chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine instead. Vilsack was President Barack Obama’s longest-serving Cabinet secretary. He left that position Friday, a week before Donald Trump takes office.