IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Gnats appear to be especially plentiful this spring in Iowa, annoying residents and potentially endangering some animals. Ken Holscher, an Iowa State University entomologist, tells the Iowa City Press-Citizen that gnats are usually common in spring along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, but they appear to be more plentiful in central parts of Iowa.
That seems clear to Sara Swanson, who farms near the southeast Iowa city of Riverside. Swanson says last week, gnats killed four turkeys she was raising. The tiny bugs plugged the birds’ nostrils and suffocated them.
Holscher says there is little people can do to ward off gnats, which are especially plentiful on sunny, calm days. He notes, though, that they should largely disappear within a couple weeks. Unfortunately, they’ll be replaced by mosquitoes.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO) and the Iowa Beef Center (IBC) are preparing for the ISU Feedlot School to be held this summer at the Armstrong Research Farm near Lewis,. The educational series will include information about numerous aspects of feedlot management including record keeping, risk management, animal health, nutrition, environmental stewardship, and animal handling.
Chris Clark, ISUEO beef field specialist, says “The curriculum should be educational for anyone involved in the day to day management of a feedlot.” The program will feature several speakers from Iowa State University including Lee Schulz, ISU Livestock Economist; Shane Ellis, Farm Management Field Specialist; Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center Director; and Jan Shearer, Professor of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine.
Other highlights will include a low-stress cattle handling demonstration, BQA presentation and certification, a field trip to Ames to visit the College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Animal Science Department, and more. The series kicks off on Thursday, June 12 at the Wallace Foundation Learning Center/Armstrong Research Farm near Lewis, with a presentation on record keeping with the updated version of IBC’s Feedlot Monitoring Program.
Clark says they “Plan to have computers for participants to use so they can actually practice with the program and get a feel for setting things up and inputting data.” Garland Dahlke from the IBC will then help participants input a group of research cattle that will be fed at the farm, allowing for the animals to be tracked through the entire feeding period.
The June 12 date will also feature a presentation on risk management strategies from ISU Livestock Economist Lee Schulz. ” Future topics include animal health management, starting cattle on feed, environmental stewardship including an update on the EPA/DNR work plan, animal handling, feedlot audits, and much more.
The six-part series meets twice in June, and then once a month July through October. The registration fee is $150 for the entire series. For more information or to register please contact Chris Clark firstname.lastname@example.org or Leann Plowman-Tibken email@example.com at (712) 769-2600.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa company has agreed to pay $6.8 million in fines for crimes that include selling the tainted eggs that caused a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010. A plea agreement filed Monday by federal prosecutors calls for Quality Egg to plead guilty Tuesday to charges of bribery, selling misbranded eggs and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
The company is admitting that, between 2006 and 2010, it intentionally sold eggs to customers in Arizona, California and elsewhere with false labels that disguised how old they were. The company says its employees twice bribed a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector in 2010 to approve eggs that didn’t meet federal quality standards.
Company owners Austin and Peter DeCoster are expected to plead guilty Tuesday to introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
A small group of young adults is hard at work in a few of Iowa’s state parks again this summer. The Americorps trails crew, comprised of 11 current undergraduates or recent college graduates, is working with Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff on several projects. Whitney Davis, Trails Program Coordinator for the DNR, says the Americorps employees are paid a “modest living stipend” for some very difficult and dirty – but ultimately rewarding – work.
“We pride ourselves on using a lot of hand tools and manual labor to accomplish things that might be done with a machine if we brought in a contractor,” Davis says. “We do have some machines of our own that we use…but we can finesse things a lot better by hand.” The crew has moved into Springbrook State Park near Guthrie Center as they work to stabilize a trail surrounding a lake and bring back a pathway from the trail, up a hill, to a park.
“There are railroad tie stairs that go up to it, but they haven’t been used for quite some time and they’re in disrepair,” Davis says. “The trail crew is refurbishing that staircase. It’s pretty long and takes you up to a nice picnic area.” Other projects on the trail crew’s agenda this summer include improvements to equestrian trails within Lake of Three Fires State Park in Bedford and work in Bellevue State Park along the Mississippi River.
Davis says the Bellevue project involves construction of hiking trails. The workers are also scheduled to attend the 5th annual Iowa Trail Summit in Cedar Falls that features more than 20 panelists speaking about the future of Iowa’s trails. Last year, according to Davis, the trail crew’s most significant projects took place at Brushy Creek State Park, Bellevue State Park, and Stone State Park.
SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) – A northwest Iowa man has pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the theft of farm and construction equipment. Michael Block, of Sibley, entered his written plea Thursday in Osceola County District Court. He faces seven counts of first-degree theft, 10 counts of second-degree theft and one count each of third- and fourth-degree theft.
The Sioux City Journal reports Block is accused of stealing farm and construction equipment that was reported missing in four Iowa counties. The equipment is valued at more than $200,000. Block turned himself in to authorities in April, after Osceola County sheriff’s deputies served warrants on his property and found items that had been reported stolen.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Friday) announced that five watershed demonstration projects have been selected to receive $1.7 million in funding through the Iowa water quality initiative over the next three years. In addition to the state funds, the eight projects will provide an additional $2.2 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions. The five projects are within the large priority watersheds prioritized by the Iowa Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC), which include the East and West Nishnabotna, Floyd, and Skunk watersheds.
Locally, the Bluegrass & Crabapple – East Nishnabotna Watershed Project received a $325,000 grant for a $1.2-million dollar project, where the Audubon Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) will expand on existing partnerships and foster a peer-to-peer network to help promote and spread adoption of nutrient reduction practices in the Bluegrass and Crabapple watersheds. An advisory group made up of partners and farmers has helped develop this project and help shape watershed-wide demonstrations.
And, the Walnut Creek Watershed Project – Subwatershed of the Nishnatbotna River Water Quality Initiative (WQI), received a $480,000 grant toward the $1.082-million project cost, to build a network of producers, local agribusiness representatives, and agencies to promote and demonstrate conservation practices detailed in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Thee partnerships – lead by the Montgomery County SWCD – will ensure the best information is used to help present a regional focus on management and implementation of these practices.
In all, the demonstration watersheds selected cover 345,449 acres. The projects will implement and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of a host of conservation practices including, but not limited to: cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands, terraces, bioreactors, buffer strips, no-till, strip-till, nitrogen inhibitors, extended rotations, conservation cover, drainage water management and manure management.
Another round of funding for new watershed demonstration projects may be available later this year depending on funding availability.
Cass County Zoning Administrator Rich Hansen reported to the Board of Supervisors, Thursday, a business north of Atlantic is requesting a change of zoning for their property on North Olive Street, to keep up with growing business demands.
Hansen says the request from the Farm Service Cooperative (FSC), who wants to expand their operations 4.6-acres to the north. The move will help the company grow its agronomy and chemical sales on the site. Plans call for a scale, office and agronomy buildings.
Hansen says the Zoning Board is expected to hear their proposal on June 12th. The Zoning Board’s recommendation stemming from that meeting on the proposed rezoning request, will be sent to the Supervisors for final action.
Iowa residents may fish without a license on June 6, 7 and 8 as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources free fishing weekend. Free fishing weekend allows Iowans an opportunity to try fishing without purchasing a license. All other regulations remain in place.
“We are experiencing some excellent fishing across the state right now at Green Valley Lake, Little River Lake, Hawthorne Lake and our trout streams and our fisheries at Rice Lake, Silver Lake and Lake Miami are being improved to provide better fishing in the future,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau. We hope that someone who gives fishing a try during free fishing weekend will enjoy the experience and want to go fishing more often and become a license holder,” Larscheid said.
Free fishing weekend is scheduled during what is traditionally the time when bluegills are close to shore and aggressive. “This is a great time to take kids fishing because the chance for success is pretty good,” he said. The best way to catch bluegills, according to Larscheid, is to use small tackle – little hooks, a bobber no larger than a quarter, 4-pound test line and small bait.
Anyone catching their first fish is encouraged to take a photo of it and send it in to receive the DNR’s first fish award. The DNR will commemorate the event with a certificate suitable for framing and the submitted photo.
Information on the first fish program is available in the Iowa Fishing Regulations and online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/MasterAnglerFirstFish.aspx
Qualifying fish caught during free fishing weekend are also eligible for master angler recognition. For bluegills, the minimum length for master angler award is 10 inches.
A bill to improve the nation’s waterways could help grain farmers in the Midwest compete in the global marketplace. The Waterways Resource Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA (pronounced ‘word-uh’), has been over a year in the making. It authorizes spending $12 billion for improvements such as deepening ports. Grain farmers hope it will ultimately allow for larger ships to carry corn, soybeans, and wheat to foreign markets. Corning, Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser is president of the American Soybean Association.
“The demand for soybeans, that protein and oil that we have from the soybeans, has just been growing so terrifically in the last 20 years and meeting that demand is important,” Gaesser say. Exports are an increasingly important part of grain marketing, but according to Gaesser, many locks and dams are 80 years old and new modern ships are too big for the depth of some ports.
“That infrastructure, that ability to effectively and efficiently move our products within the United States and throughout the world…it’s a big deal to agriculture,” Gaesser says. Congress passed WRRDA earlier this month, but President Obama has yet to sign it. Congress must still decide exactly how and whether to appropriate the funding.