Many ethanol industry officials are concerned that President-elect Donald Trump has selected people who have strong ties to “Big Oil” to fill key administration posts. Those include former Texas Governor Rick Perry for energy secretary, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. But, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen says he’s not overly concerned. He says all that really matters is who is in charge.
“While these people may not be strong ethanol advocates themselves, it is not the Scott Pruitt administration. It is not the Rick Perry administration. It is not even the Rex Tillerson administration. It is the Donald J. Trump presidency,” Dinneen says. Iowa is the nation’s top producer of ethanol. Dinneen is confident the Trump administration will be pro-ethanol.
“He wants to see ethanol being used. He sees renewable fuels as a part of our nation’s energy future. It’s going to be Scott Pruitt’s responsibility to implement Donald Trump’s agenda,” Dinneen says.
Earlier this month, Governor Terry Branstad also expressed confidence the new Trump administration will be pro-ethanol. Branstad said while he’s “concerned” about the fact Pruitt is from an oil-producing state, the governor was “reassured” about the appointment in a meeting with Trump. “First thing Trump told me is, ‘don’t worry about (Pruitt), he’s going to be for ethanol,'” Branstad said.
(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)
The November election gave Republicans control of both houses of the Iowa Legislature beginning in 2017 as well as the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years. Iowa Farmers Union President Jana Linderman says having the G-O-P control the debate agenda in the Iowa House and Senate may create some challenges for her group and its policies.
“When one party controls both those chambers, there tends to be less leverage to get things done,” Linderman says. “I’m looking particularly at our agenda around local foods and pesticide drift, protecting some of our horticulture farmers, our organic farmers and others that are interested in those issues. Those might tend to be less popular.”
Linderman says the farmers union got backing on water quality improvement efforts from legislators in both chambers last session. “Water quality, I’m hopeful there’s enough bipartisan support for moving forward, that there will continue to be at least a good discussion and good energy behind getting something done this session,” she says. “That remains to be seen but I’m hopeful there will still be lots of opportunity for engagement on that set of issues.”
Linderman says her group can work with either party on important agricultural issues as she says the farmers union has always been a non-partisan organization. “We’re typically identified as being on the progressive side of a lot of policies but, in fact, our members write our policies and what’s most important to us is finding elected officials who are willing to support us on specific issues,” Linderman says. “Really, I prefer working with people on both sides of the aisle because you get more done that way.”
Besides gearing up to work with state lawmakers on ag issues, Linderman says her group is getting ready for its state convention in the next couple of weeks and will be talking about the need to get going on a new farm bill at the national level.
Cold temperatures have frozen over most of the state’s lakes and ponds — setting off the ice fishing season. Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief, Joe Larschied, says you should be able to ice fish in most areas of the state. He says there are still some lakes in southeast Iowa that haven’t fully frozen, but most of the lakes and impoundments have five to six inches of ice on them.
The forecast is calling for the temperatures to rise into the 40s in some areas of the state, but Larschied says that won’t melt everything away. “We’re still going to be making ice at night and we are going to be in the 30s and maybe 40s for a couple of days. For a short periods of time they’re not going to be melting a lot of ice. When you have good, hard, clear ice it takes a lot of warming days to really whittle that down,” Larschied says. “I’m going to predict that we are going to be making ice instead of losing ice.”
But Larschied isn’t giving a guarantee that all the ice will be good. “We can never say it is 100 percent safe to go ice fishing — because the conditions can vary in the lake or impoundment,” Larschied says. “But generally, four inches of hard, clear ice is safe to fish on for foot traffic. Anything of six inches and above is safe for A-T-Vs. And over eight to ten inches is safe if you want to drive larger vehicles on the ice.”
He says there are a couple of warning signs that the ice may not be safe. “If the ice looks dark, there’s nobody fishing it, be very careful,” Larschied says. He says you should punch plenty of holes in the ice to test its thickness. And always take a friend with you so you have help if you get into trouble on the ice.
He says bring these safety items along in the bucket: ice picks, about 50 feet of rope and a throwable floatation seat cushion for use in case of rescue.
With winter just getting underway today (Wednesday), we’re a long way from the spring run-off season, but forecasters are trying to look ahead and give Iowa farmers a chance to plan. Doug Kluck, the central region climate service director at the National Weather Service, says the first indications show run-off into the Missouri River basin should -not- be an issue next spring.
Kluck says, “If the forecasts hold true in terms of greater-than-normal precipitation and below-normal temperatures in the upper basin, if those come true — and they’re only slight probabilities pointing in that direction — I would say the run-off season should be relatively good.”
He notes that upper basin is the far upper basin, meaning, Montana and Wyoming. Kluck says mountain snowpack is currently behind normal. “As of right now, we’re a little bit behind the curve in the upper portions of the Missouri and the Platte River basin,” Kluck says. “It’s really tough to say. We’re not very far into the snow accumulation season, especially in the mountains. That can last into May in some places, so there’s a lot of season to go at this point.”
The U-S Army Corps of Engineers says the six main stem reservoirs of the Missouri River basin are expected to have the full 16-point-three million acre feet of flood storage available by spring.
Twin brothers from Coon Rapids are charged in a series of livestock thefts over three years. Charges are filed in Carroll County against 20-year-old Jerome Boblett and his twin brother, Justin, who are facing the charges after a farmer they worked for, Joe Danner, noticed he was short on hogs and called the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office on September 10th.
Sheriff Ken Pingrey said the ensuing investigation revealed the Bobletts had been taking small numbers of hogs from a variety of different locations going back to 2013. They were able to do this undetected because as employees they could report the missing hogs as dead. The theft in September was a bolder move by the pair, who took and sold 22 head of hogs to Lynch Livestock, northwest of Carroll.
The investigation uncovered a paper trail for payments that led authorities back to the Boblett brothers. The estimated dollar value of stolen hogs to date is over $40,000. The investigation into the thefts continues and other arrests may be pending.
Join Cass County Conservation Staff at Atlantic’s Schildberg Recreation Area- Lake 4 on Saturday, January 7th 2017. Staff will be giving ten-minute presentations regarding the Trumpeter Swans every half-hour beginning at 11:00 a.m. with the last one being presented at 2:00 p.m. There will also be time to view the swans through spotting scopes and witness random swan feeding sessions.
Hot chocolate, cookies, grilled hotdogs, and other snacks will be provided free of charge with donations being accepted (for swan care). The Schildberg Recreation Area is located on the northwest edge of Atlantic, Lake 4 is on the north side of Highway 83.
IF THE WEATHER IS “BAD” OR THE SWANS ARE NOT AT THE PARK…the program will be held at the Atlantic Public Library from 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. with a light lunch available. This event is being sponsored by the Cass County Conservation Board, Atlantic Parks and Recreation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Atlantic Public Library.
(Cass Co. Conservation Dept. News Release)
Congress is expected to begin work early next year on the next farm bill. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill says maintaining a strong crop insurance program is his group’s top priority. “What we hear from our producers is, ‘don’t touch my crop insurance program. We like the crop insurance program,'” Hill says. “It gives us the ability to farm another year. It’s revenue protecting. We don’t want to go to Congress with a request for a disaster bill if we have a drought or other problem. We want to rely on a good insurance program.”
Iowa’s crop insurance participation rate exceeds 90 percent. Hill is also hoping the next farm bill will help farmers with conservation efforts. “We’re hearing that across the state. We want to do better and we’re going to need assistance in terms of technical advice and engineering, but also in cost sharing and fundamentally assisting us in doing what we can best do as stewards,” Hill says.
Congress passed the last farm bill in 2014.
(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)
The ice skating rink being prepared at Sunnyside Park will have its Grand Opening sometime during the first week in January. The exact date will be announced later. Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm told the Atlantic Parks and Rec Board during their meeting Monday evening, that the heavy duty liner covering the basketball court was installed Friday thanks to volunteer help, and fits like a glove.
They’ve put in two-inches of water and will need to make sure the ice is at least four-inches thick before it can be used. That’s also the reason he hasn’t set a specific grand opening date. Staashelm said they want to make sure the ice is smooth and ready for use. The 90-by-120 foot rink will likely be open he said, before the Grand Opening event.
Staashelm said there is a lot of excitement about the skating rink. He said ice skates are not being made available to users, so you’ll have to bring your own. Staashelm said also, he has e-mailed the Aksarben Curling Club (www.curlaksarben.com) to see if they have any interest in using the facility once its open. He hopes to eventually have a night designated specifically for curling.
LED rope lights are installed on three of the four sides. Additional electrical and illumination issues are currently being addressed. A snow fence will enclose the area, with one designated entrance. Patio heaters are also planned for the area so people can warm up once they’ve been on the ice for a while.
In other business, Staashelm confirmed the streets in Sunnyside Park are closed for the season for safety reasons (they don’t want to have vehicles sliding off the roads and hitting buildings, property or pedestrians). The park itself is still open for foot traffic and events.
Seth said also, reservations for the shelter houses at Sunnyside Park will not be accepted until January 1st. He says he will be updating the Parks and Rec website to reflect reservation dates for 2017.