The Department of Agriculture has announced a new effort aimed at connecting farmers with urban shoppers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the demand for local food is growing to between five and seven billion dollars every year and that could be an economic boon for farmers. “We know that there are a number of opportunities that exist in urban centers to expand local food production and promotion,” Vilsack says.
Certain urban projects will now be eligible for a loan guarantee program that’s long been a part of the farm bill’s Rural Development title. Local food efforts in cities will be considered for funds through a guaranteed loan program, provided they directly benefit rural communities. “If you’re going to be using U-S-D-A resources, it has to have a connection, a financial and legitimate connection to rural areas and that is why there is the condition that there has to be some linkage to rural productions and producers,” he explains.
Vilsack says a food hub that connects city institutions to local food is one example. “So the business and industry loan program will clarify that these resources can now be used for an urban project, so long as it’s benefiting rural producers,” according to Vilsack. The 78 million dollars in this year’s farm bill is the biggest ever federal boost to local food programs.
by: Haley Carlson, Atlantic FFA Reporter
As April came to a close, the Atlantic FFA prepared 15 of its members for the State Leadership Conference at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. The Atlantic FFA left on Sunday, April 27 for Ames. FFA members began SLC by packing Meals from the Heartland at Hilton Coliseum. Meals from the Heartland is a nonprofit organization that packs thousands of meals for starving people around the world. Each package feeds six people, and contains rice, soy protein, vitamins, minerals and dried vegetables. The Iowa FFA packed 250,000 meals this year bringing the grand total to almost 750,000 meals within the past three years! These meals will be available to local food pantries and other organizations around the world.
During State Leadership Conference there were multiple tours FFA members could take around the Iowa State campus. Some of the tours Atlantic FFA members took were to the Bio Century Farm, the ISU Beef Farm, Reiman Gardens, the Ag Business tour, the 450 Farm, and the 450 Shop tour. A few of the workshops that Atlantic FFA members participated in were on ATV Safety and a Leadership Workshop held by National FFA Central Region Vice President,
All of the 15 members were very busy during the conference. Four seniors received their Iowa Degrees. To receive an Iowa Degree a student must have received a chapter degree, be a
member of FFA for two years and have completed two years of high school. They must have earned or productively invested at least $1,000 in their SAE or worked at least 300 hours in excess of scheduled class time or a combination of the two. Students must have 25 hours of community service, perform ten procedures of parliamentary law, give a six minute speech on a topic relating to agriculture or the FFA. They must have served as an officer, committee chairperson, or a participating member of a chapter committee and have a satisfactory scholastic record as certified by the local agricultural education instructor and the principal or superintendent. Through all of these requirements, Wyatt Saeugling, Tucker Sager, Kristin Johnk, and Chancey Richards, received their Iowa Degree on April 29, 2014.
Also, Atlantic FFA member Wyatt Saeugling was one of six selected as a Finalist in the Star of Ag Placement. Unfortunately Saeugling did not win, but it was still a great honor to be a finalist. The finalists are chosen from the 686 Iowa FFA members that earned their Iowa Degree this year.
Tuesday FFA members Clint Hansen, Adam Freund, Marshal McDermott, and Clayton Saeugling, took the Farm Business Management test. The FBM is a test that analyzes agriculture, farm, and ranch business management information. It applies economic principles and concepts of farm business management to the decisionmaking process. It also evaluates agriculture business, and farm business management decisions, and it tests the members ability to work together cooperatively as a group. The Atlantic FFA team placed with a Bronze.
Three of Atlantic’s freshmen FFA members participated in the Chapter Program. Morgan Barkley, Nate Moen, and Haylee Valeika set up a display for the chapter about ATV safety. The group presented to the judges Monday morning. The Atlantic FFA received a Bronze award. Two of the Atlantic FFA members took the Greenhand test at the Scheman building Tuesday morning. Freshmen, Colin Peterson and Colby Sorensen both placed with a Bronze award.
Atlantic had three FFA members that were part of committees during the State Leadership Conference. Clayton Saeugling was a part of the Audit Committee. The committee reviewed the past year’s budget and offered some potential changes to the new budget. Marshal McDermott was a part of the Programs of Activities committee. This committee reviewed the past years activities and also offered some changes to the new year. Haley Carlson was a part of the Nominating Committee. This committee met a week before SLC. They interviewed and balloted the state officer candidates. All of these committees presented at the Business Session Monday morning.
The week was a huge success for the Atlantic FFA! Also the chapter would like to thank LeVon Sager for donating her time to chaperone the Atlantic FFA on this trip!
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — While Iowa environmental regulators hold public hearings on a new proposed rule designed to improve water quality through better enforcement of livestock farms, significant manure spills are occurring and highlighting problems the state faces managing a growing livestock industry.
It’s a difficult balance Iowa must find between encouraging livestock production that generates billions of dollars a year in sales and handling the waste generating by 60 million chickens, 20 million pigs, and 4 million cows.
The DNR is holding six hearings around the state over the next week on its proposed rule environmental groups and others say is too weak.
The group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says the rule should require livestock farms to obtain clean water permits to provide regulators leverage to halt frequent manure spills.
611 AM CDT WED MAY 7 2014
ELEVATED FIRE DANGER EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON IN PORTIONS OF WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST IOWA.
WINDS ARE FORECAST TO INCREASE TODAY FROM THE SOUTH AND SHOULD BE SUSTAINED AT 15 TO 20 MPH BY THIS AFTERNOON WITH GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH. AS THE WINDS INCREASE…DRIER AIR IS EXPECTED TO EDGE INTO WESTERN PORTIONS OF THE STATE WITH RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES DROPPING BELOW 30 PERCENT DURING THE AFTERNOON.
THE COMBINATION OF THE WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITIES WILL LEAD TO AN ELEVATED FIRE
POTENTIAL THIS AFTERNOON UNTIL THE WINDS RELAX AND HUMIDITY VALUES CLIMB THIS EVENING. ANY OUTDOOR FIRES ACROSS THIS AREA WILL HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO SPREAD RAPIDLY THIS AFTERNOON AND BURNING IS DISCOURAGED.
The State Fire Marshal Division and University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ Burn Treatment Center are warning Iowans of the alarming number of brush fire-related deaths and injuries. Officials say between February and April this year, the U-I Burn Treatment Center reports three people have died and three others have been injured as a result of brush fires. During that same time period last year, 2013, the Burn Treatment Center reported one death and one injury from burns sustained in brush fires. All four deaths were of people ages 75 years and older. Not all of these victims were Iowans; some were flown in from surrounding states.
As more Iowans begin burning brush, officials warn people to keep a close eye on the dry and windy conditions. Brush fires can pose a serious threat to lives and property when out of control. The recent spike in senior adult deaths related to brush fires has officials warning that the risk of injury increases as one’s agility, vision and hearing diminish.
To prevent the spread of brush fires and other debris, keep in mind the following:
Cool, wet weather has kept the planting season from getting into full swing, but that could change this week. Iowa Ag Secretary, Bill Northey, says farmers are anxious to get things moving. “Last week we really didn’t get much planting done, there may’ve bee a few spots that did, but most of the state was wet,” Northey says. “I’ve seen a little bit of corn emerge as I was around in southwest Iowa last week. I think there is a lot of hope for this week to get quite a bit of corn in the ground. We’ve got some sunny weather with a little bit of breeze to dry it out.”
He says farmers will be watching the fields to be ready to go as soon as they are dry enough.”My guess is that farmers have the planters on the edge of the fields ready to go,” Northey says. The new U-S-D-A crop report released Monday showed 23-percent of the expected corn acreage in the state was planted. That nine days ahead of last year but 10 days behind normal. Northey says farmers generally like to get planting by the end of March or the first week of May, but there is still time.
“We don’t want to get more than a week out from now to get most of the corn in — so there is plenty of time,” according to Northey. He says the rain really helped in areas that were very dry. The extreme cold pushed the frost deeper into the ground than normal, and Northey says that was another factor in keeping farmers out of the fields. “I think especially across northern Iowa that frost came out really slow. I heard of some frost still in the ground a week or two ago, but I think the moisture helped dry some of that frost out,” Northey says.
He says most areas have probably warmed up enough now to allow planting. The crop report shows scattered bean planting so far, and Northey expects that to pick up as farmers get into the fields. “I certainly think some beans will start in the ground here not too long after the corn is in,” Northey says. Northey farms near Spirit Lake and says he hopes to start and finish his planting this week.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa and Nebraska farmers say they’re still on track to get their corn planted despite cold, wet weather that slowed their start to the planting season. Numbers released Monday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show 23 percent of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted. That’s up significantly from last week’s 15 percent planted.
The percentage likely will rise quickly this week, as farmers have several warm, dry days before rain returns to the forecast. Chad Hart, an Iowa State University agriculture economist, says it’s crucial for farmers to get their crop planted in the coming weeks. He says corn should be in the ground by late April to early May.
Nebraska is closer to completion, with 44 percent of its corn crop planted.
The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency has increased the County-wide Fire Danger category to “Moderate” this week, due to decreased humidity and strengthening winds. The current Fire Danger rating will be in effective through Thursday morning, at which time the situation will be assessed and the county fire danger status updated.
When the fire danger is “moderate” it means that fires can start from most accidental causes, but the number of fire starts is usually pretty low. If a fire does start in an open, dry grassland, it will burn and spread quickly on windy days. Most wood fires will spread slowly to moderately. Average fire intensity will be moderate except in heavy concentrations of fuel, which may burn hot. Fires are still not likely to become serious and are often easy to control.