KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Economic downturn is hitting all farmers: Corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

An ag industry analyst says the economic downturn is hitting all sectors of agriculture and virtually all Iowa farmers are feeling the brunt. Dave Miller, director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau, says every commodity is being impacted. “Corn prices are down more than half from where they peaked a couple of years ago,” Miller says. “Soybeans are down about 60%, hogs are down 45% from two years ago, cattle are down 35% this year. It’s across the board with all of the major commodities we produce here in Iowa.”

Miller says part of the reason for the economic drop is tied to large crops globally. “We really have had very few production problems for the last four years across the world,” Miller says. “That is leading to good growth in consumption but it’s continuing to build stocks as the production has continued to outpace production and that’s putting pressure on prices.”

Miller says it’s an unfortunate reality but the situation won’t likely improve until there’s some monumental natural disaster. “There is no big new demand on the immediate horizon, such as we had with the development of the biofuels industry a decade ago,” Miller says. “Coming out of this is probably going to happen because of weather problems someplace significant around the world.”

Miller says you don’t often get five years in a row without inclement weather impacting agriculture.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks and Recreation Board to meet Monday

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 19th, 2016 by Chris Parks

The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Board is set to meet on Monday, November 21st at 5:15pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall. A number of updates will be given and discussed on numerous ongoing projects.

The Board plans to discuss the Sunnyside Pool Steering Committee, Schildberg Lake 2 Trail Project, Trevor Frederickson Field Renovation Update, Enhance Iowa Application Update, and Schildberg Recreation Area Campground update.  Discussion will also take place in regards to signage update as part of a beautification plan. They will also discuss the Sunnyside Basketball Court and Ice Rink Proposal and consider a request for safety storage cabinets.

Director Seth Staashelm will also provide a report that includes information on the Iowa Parks and Recreation Conference, Summer Programs report, and an update on Little League Improvements.  Staashelm will also discuss seasonal employees being laid off for the winter and talk about winter preparations. The Sunnyside Park restrooms have been closed for the season but the streets will remain open weather permitting.

IUB gets update and hears complaints on the Bakken pipeline

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Utilities Board heard an update on the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the state and complaints from those who oppose it at their meeting Thursday. I-U-B attorney David Lynch gave the latest progress report from the company. “It indicates that 99 percent of the pipeline in Iowa has been lowered into the trench — and 96 percent of that trench has been backfilled. Only Buena Vista and Cherokee Counties are not yet complete to that stage,” Lynch says.

Work is more than halfway done in finishing up construction. “The report also indicates that 52 percent of the clean up and land restoration has been complete, while 61 percent of the pipeline in Iowa…has been hydrostatically tested,” according to Lynch.

Lynch told the three board members information from the board has been filed in the lawsuit against the pipeline. He says those who filed the lawsuit have until next Monday November 21st to file their reply briefs, and the oral arguments before the district court at still set for December 15th. He says they received three more complaints about the pipeline since the last meeting. “This gives us a total of 23 inquiries or complaints that have been filed since the first one on March 31st 2016. Fifteen of those 23 have been closed and eight of them are still in process. Most of those are in a state of a proposed resolution being drafted,” Lynch says.

The board heard from two representatives of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Mark Edwards talked about concerns that the pipeline workers did not drain water away from the areas where they worked. He told the board it was difficult to get complaints addressed and says the county board of supervisors did not want to take action because they were afraid of being sued. “I could go on with further examples of going down this rabbit hole of this public plunder for private gain. But it has been clear from the beginning that this is a rigged game,” according to Edwards. “Three politically appointed people have been given the power to risk the public waters, land and navigate private landowners’s rights. These proceedings have been quite the education and clearly illustrate we have little hope in our government to protect our rights and our land and our water.”

Carolyn Raffensburger also spoke about what she says are violations by the construction company, including continuing construction on land that was inundated with water. “What we have seen is that they have violated the largest commitments that they made and down to the smallest ones,” Raffesnburger says. “What we now know is that this is the rule of money rather than the rule of law. If there is not monitoring and no enforcement of your regulation — of the rules that you put in place — then it has no meaning whatsoever.”

Raffensburger made another plea for the construction to stop. “What we’re asking you today is to put on hold the rest of the construction. They are not done with construction in two counties. They have not complete the boring under the Des Moines River. That is not complete. We ask you put that on hold, that you stop construction until your rules have been followed,” Raffensburger says.

The I-U-B also heard from people about the pipeline during their public comment period. They listened for around 30 minutes to comments of those who are opposed to the pipeline. The board did not give any response to the comments.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa Policy Project report: voluntary approach to farm chemical management not working

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Authors of a new report from an eastern Iowa think tank say the voluntary approach to reducing farm chemical run-off isn’t working. David Osterberg is with the Iowa Policy Project, a “progressive” non-profit research group based in Iowa City. “When we look at the status of water quality in the Mississippi River and also within the state, we just can’t find much improvement there,” Osterberg says.

Osterberg says billions of state and federal money has financed conservation measures in farm fields, but the so-called “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico “is as big as it’s ever been.” “All the data we find does not show that we’re making real progress,” Osterberg says.

Sara Conrad, the co-author of the Iowa Policy Project report, says there are “a lot of great farmers in Iowa,” but there’s no a lot of improvement in water quality. “We have to understand that maybe just instituting simple voluntary measures may not be our final solution,” Conrad says.

Conrad’s report concludes Iowa farmers are spending less than one-dollar per acre on conservation measures. Osterberg, the co-founder of the Iowa Policy Project, is also a former state legislator. He suggests current legislators should raise taxes on farm chemicals to get more money for on-the-farm projects to reduce run-off.

Supporters of the voluntary approach to farm chemical management say more Iowa farmers are embracing the state’s “Nutrient Reduction Strategy” and government regulations on farm chemical applications wouldn’t fully take into account the characteristics of each acre of Iowa farmland.

(Radio Iowa)

Federal rules aim to bring marketplace protections for farmers

Ag/Outdoor

November 16th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Proposed federal regulations aim to level the playing field for farmers and ranchers in dealing with big corporations. John Crabtree, media director at the Center for Rural Affairs, says the U-S-D-A’s Farmer Fair Practice Rules are designed to improve marketplace conditions for producers in Iowa and nationwide.

“They’re to provide marketplace protections for farmers and ranchers that raise poultry and livestock,” Crabtree says. “They’re to shield farmers and ranchers who raise poultry and hogs on contract from some of the abuses in the system that have been prevalent on the part of meatpackers and poultry processors.”

He says the proposed rules would help to create a transparent marketplace. “Livestock markets are not fundamentally fair and competitive places,” Crabtree says. “Farmers and ranchers who raise poultry and hogs on contract get abused by very large processors. They don’t get treated with a fair hand.”

The U-S-D-A recently submitted the rules to the Office of Management and Budget in a move hailed by many ag organizations, including the National Farmers Union and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Crabtree says, “They’ve said for many years we should have more fairness, more competition, more equity in the marketplace so great big meatpacking corporations can’t just knock around farmers and ranchers because they’re smaller.”

Opponents of the rules include the North American Meat Institute and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. They claim the proposal would raise costs for producers and for consumers. The U-S-D-A already reviewed more than 60-thousand comments as it considered the potential economic impact of the rules.

(Radio Iowa)

Hunter compliance slipping on reported deer harvest requirement

Ag/Outdoor, Sports

November 16th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Hunters play a large role in managing Iowa’s world class deer herd by working with landowners and neighbors to reduce doe numbers, providing tissue samples to monitor for chronic wasting disease and by reporting successful hunts to the harvest reporting system. Officials with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources say the reported harvest is an important piece of information used when wildlife experts discuss possible changes to seasons, antlerless quotas, or other potential regulation changes.

But each year, more and more hunters are skipping this step. Presently, one out of five successful hunters is not reporting their harvest. “Our officers are conducting spot checks and have been writing more failure to report tickets,” said Chris Ensminger, wildlife research supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Harvest numbers are an important piece of information used in our models for deer populations around the state. If harvest is higher than is what has been reported, the proposed management strategies won’t accurately reflect what is on the ground. It’s the local hunters who get short changed in the end.”

Reporting the harvest only takes a few minutes. Hunters must report their harvest to the DNR by midnight of the day after it is killed, or before taking it to a locker or taxidermist, or before processing it for consumption, or before transporting it out-of-state, whichever occurs first. The hunter whose name is on the transportation tag is responsible for making the report.

If no animal is harvested, no report is necessary.

Union County trapper shoots self in thigh

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 15th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a 24-year old Afton man suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his thigh while checking traps in rural Union County Sunday morning. Officials say Zachery Springer had shot a raccoon that was caught in a set with his .22 caliber pistol. As he was holstering the pistol, the strap of the holster that holds the gun in place entered the trigger guard. As he pushed the gun further into the holster, the strap tightened against the trigger causing the gun to fire, shooting Springer in the upper thigh. Springer was transported to Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston, where he underwent surgery to remove the bullet.

Iowa Turkeys selected for White House pardon

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 15th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa is sending some turkeys to Washington, D-C. That’s not a commentary on the recent elections — it’s a big honor for the state’s turkey industry. Iowa Turkey Federation spokesperson, Hailey Grant, says a northwest Iowa farm will supply the turkeys for the annual ceremony where the president pardons the big birds before Thanksgiving. “We’re pretty excited. I think it’s a great honor for Iowa to get to raise these turkeys for the president,” Grant says.

She says the name of the farm and its owner are being kept secret until later this week for security reasons to keep animal rights groups and others from going to the farm. While a national election chooses the politicians who’re sent to White House, the selection of the presidential turkeys are picked by one person. “The chairman of the National Turkey Federation selects the state that will raise the presidential flock and this year Iowa was chosen,” Grant says. ” There’s ten or so states in the U-S that have a pretty large turkey industry — and so if you think once a year the turkey is chosen — that means that every eight to ten years Iowa we might be chosen, so that’s pretty exciting.”

The process is a little more complicated for the turkey producers than picking out a couple of birds and sending them out east. “What they usually do is they pull 20 or so from their normal size flocks and they have a special building built on the farm where those turkeys are raise — just the 20 of them — with people or noise, so they get acclimated with crowds,” Grant explains.

The turkeys that pass the test end up getting pardoned. She says they have a radio playing all the time to generate noise and they end up picking two birds out of the 20 that seem to handle being around people without being skittish are sent to be pardoned.

Grant says the honor is a big boost for the turkey industry after being hit so hard last year by the bird flu. She says Iowa’s industry has rebounded and is back to 100 percent production. Most of the turkeys raised in Iowa do not end up on the Thanksgiving table, they are used for meat in sandwiches in fast-food restaurants.

(Radio Iowa)

Harvest season very close to the end

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 15th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The recent spell of warm and sunny weather has allowed many farmers to either finish come very close to completing this year’s harvest. The latest U-S-D-A crop report shows 94 percent of the corn crop has been harvested — and for the first time this year the harvest is not behind the five-year average. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey talked about harvest. “It’s really coming along very good, we have some parts of Iowa that are done, and the tillage is done and fertilizer going on the ground,” Northey says.

He doesn’t expect it to take too much longer before all the combines have finished their work. “We do see a lot of progress, the forecast is good, the conditions are very good now, the corn is drying down and I would imagine within the next week or so there won’t be too many acres left in the field,” Northey says.

The numbers he’s hearing on the harvest are good for corn. “Average yield in Iowa across all acres expected to be199 bushels and acre,” Northey says. “And 59 bushels and acre for soybeans. Again that’s a record.” Northey, who farms near Spirit Lake says his harvest is completed after some weather setbacks.

“We had a little wet spell in the middle, so we had a little bit of mud in the middle. And I had a little too much rain in May when I planted some of the corn, so we had some stand issues. My corn crop wasn’t the best I’ve had — it was a little bit better last year than this years,” Northey says.

The Agriculture Secretary says he has some post-harvest work left to do before wrapping everything up for the years. While harvest is winding down in most of the state, southwest and south central Iowa still have more than 10 percent of the corn crop and almost 10 percent of the soybean crop remaining to be harvested.

(Radio Iowa)

Manure spilled near Breda in Carroll County

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 14th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are monitoring the site of a manure spill, in Carroll County. At around 5:30-p.m. Friday, a landowner reported a manure spill about three miles northwest of the city of Breda.

The DNR investigated the spill Friday and Saturday, finding that an unknown amount of manure flowed into an underground tile intake after a tanker became stuck in a marshy area. With Carroll County’s help, DNR traced the manure underground through tile lines to an unnamed tributary which eventually flows into the Boyer River. There were no dead fish seen below the spill area.

The manure came from an Iowa Select facility during land application by a commercial manure applicator company owned by Mark Schroeder. Schroeder and Iowa Select plugged the tile intake and dammed the area around the spill, pumping the diluted manure to a nearby crop field.

Pumping will continue for a few days because of the marshy conditions. The DNR is monitoring the cleanup and will consider appropriate enforcement action.