COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – Officials in western Iowa will consider seeking a $200,000 state grant to help remove invasive trees and plants taking over a Council Bluffs park. The Daily Nonpareil reports that non-native trees and plants – like black locust, buckthorn and Ohio buckeye- have crowded out native species in Fairmount Park. Parks Director Larry Foster will ask the Council Bluffs City Council on Monday give him the go-ahead to seek the grant.
Foster wants a 28-acre section of the park to go back to oak savannah and understory trees, as well as Loess prairies. Wood chips from the removed trees would be used to surface a nature trail within the park that would connect with a nearby neighborhood trail to the restored area
Iowa’s annual roadside survey of small game animals, from pheasants to quail to rabbits, is now underway. D-N-R wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says specially-trained crews will cover 210 routes across Iowa totaling about five-thousand miles during the coming two-week period. “It gives us a real good indication of what our small game populations are doing and what hunters can expect,” Bogenschutz says. “Mainly pheasant hunters are most interested in what’s going to happen this fall and how it compares to last year. The survey is our best statewide snapshot.”
He says it’s too early to predict what kind of season pheasant hunters will see. He notes, this past winter was quite harsh while many areas of Iowa had flooding this spring and summer — all of which could impact the various wildlife populations. “Most of our critters are fairly resilient so we’ll wait and see,” Bogenschutz says. “Right now, we’re thinking we’re going to see small declines or maybe populations real similar to last year.”
The roadside surveys first started in Iowa in the 1930s and were standardized in the 1960s. The survey began yesterday (Friday). The results should be ready by early to mid-September.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad is renewing a call to maintain the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply, after a report that the Environmental Protection Agency may scale back proposed cuts to renewable fuel production. Branstad issued his statement Friday. An EPA proposal for renewable fuel standards would reduce by almost 3 billion gallons the amounts of ethanol and other biofuels blended into gasoline in 2014 than the law requires.
The governor’s comments came after Minnesota Sen. Al Franken said a discussion with a White House official led him to believe the EPA will reduce the cuts. He still expects an overall drop in renewable fuel quotas. Iowa is the nation’s leading producer of ethanol, a fuel additive primarily made from corn that produces lower carbon emissions than gasoline
Four Shelby County residents have been appointed to the Extension Council Nominating Committee, Julie Klein announced. The committee is charged with nominating candidates for the five vacancies on the council before August 6, 2014. Committee members selected to nominate extension council candidates for the 2014 election are Erin Gaul, Harlan, Cindy Scheuring, Defiance, Chris Schweiso, Harlan and Justin Wagner, Harlan.
By law the nominating committee must include two women and two men, and cannot include any current member of the council. The committee is required to take county geography into consideration when nominating candidates.
“Serving as an extension council member is one way to give back to your community. If you believe local educational opportunities are vital to the community’s well-being, then you should consider running for council,” said Terry Maloy, director for Iowa Association of County Extension Councils. “It is rewarding to know that people are able to improve their lives, farms, businesses and communities because of ISU Extension and Outreach’s education and information.”
Candidates nominated by the committee must submit petitions containing the names of 25 qualified voters to the county election commissioner by 5 p.m. on Aug. 27, 2014. Additionally, individuals may petition to have their names placed on the ballot through a self-nominating process by submitting petitions with 25 names to the election commissioner. Petition forms are available from the election commissioner and at the county extension office.
Voters will cast ballots for the nominees in the Nov. 4, 2014, general election. Successful candidates will serve four-year terms beginning in January 2015.
Iowa is enjoying a near “normal” growing season this year and crop conditions are conducive to a bountiful crop. Before this year’s crop is even out of the field many farmland owners and tenants will be discussing next year’s rental rate and leasing agreements. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach works to bring unbiased information to both land owners and renters to help both parties make successful management decisions. The land valuation and leasing meetings discuss current land values, rental rates, trends and projections of how values and rents might change in the coming years. Other topics will include: how to calculate a rental rate based on county specific information, the variety of leasing arrangements that land owners and tenants may use, and the expected cost of crop production in the coming year. There will be a leasing meeting held on August 5th at 9:00 am in Audubon, Iowa, at the Audubon County Extension Office, located at 608 Market Street. The cost is $20/person pre-registered, or $25/person without pre-registration. Attendees will receive a land leasing handbook with reference and resource materials. The workshop will last approximately 2 ½ hours. Shane Ellis, ISU farm management specialist for the west central region of the state will be presenting. Registration is due by Monday, August 4th, please call the Audubon County Extension office at 712-563-4239.
DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that the $1.4 million in cost share funds made available statewide last week to help farmers install new nutrient reduction practices have been obligated. The practices that were eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Northey said “The tremendous response to these cost share funds shows again that farmers are committed to using voluntary, science-based conservation practices to continue to improve water quality. In less than one week Iowa farmers committed to matching the state investment, so $2.8 million in new water quality practices will be going on the ground this fall.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received applications covering 59,883 acres from 597 different farmers seeking to participate in the program. That includes 54,679 acres of cover crops, 2,531 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 1,656 acres of no-till and 1,015 acres of strip-till. Farmers in 90 of 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state received funding.
Northey announced on July 8 that the funds would be available on July 17. All the funds were obligated to farmers in less than five business days. Only farmers not already utilizing the practice were eligible to apply for assistance and cost share was only available on up to 160 acres. The cost share rate for cover crops was $25 per acre and was $10 for farmers trying no-till or strip till. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer were eligible to receive $3 per acre.
Farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local Soil and Water Conservation District office as there may be other programs available to help them implement these voluntary, science-based water quality practices on their farm.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received $4.4 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal 2015. These funds will allow the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost share assistance as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.
Last year in just two weeks over 1,000 farmers signed up for cost share funding to help implement new nutrient reduction practices on 100,000 acres. The state provided $2.8 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices.
Visit CleanWaterIowa.org to learn more about voluntary, science-based practices that can be implemented on our farms and in our cities to improve water quality. Iowans can also follow @CleanWaterIowa on twitter or “like” the page on Facebook to receive updates and other information about the ongoing Iowa water quality initiative.
LEWIS, Iowa — A two-day bus trip to various locations in Nebraska in early September will offer beginning and young Iowa beef producers unique networking and educational opportunities. Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Chris Clark said the trip is an organized activity of ISU’s Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network (BYLPN) and includes visits to several operations to provide a wide variety of information, experiences, and discussions.
“We’ll have stops at several different beef operations, a packing facility and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska,” Clark said. “Our tour guide, Jacob Mayer of Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc. has been very helpful in identifying and scheduling places with different approaches and strengths, and he’ll be able to help facilitate some good discussions on the trip.”
The trip is set for Thursday and Friday, Sept. 4 and 5, with the bus departing from the Cass County Extension Office in Atlantic at 7 a.m. on Sept. 4. Additional pick-up locations may be added as necessary. The group will overnight at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 805 Allen Dr., Grand Island, Nebraska, and return the evening of Sept. 5. A block of rooms has been reserved for Sept. 4 at the Fairfield Inn.
“Participants are responsible for their own hotel room fee and can make reservations at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by calling 308-381-8980 and asking for the group rate for Young Producers Group Block no later than Aug. 8,” Clark said. “After that date, rooms will be on an availability basis only.”
The BYLPN is a strategic initiative of ISU Extension and Outreach, with primary goals of creating regional peer groups of young and beginning livestock producers; and offering education, mentorship, and networking opportunities to participants.
“This bus trip is a fitting activity for those already involved in a BYLNP group, but people don’t need to be members of an existing group to participate,” Clark said. “We would love to see some new faces and get more people involved.”
Preregistration by Aug. 20 is required in order to ensure adequate transportation. For more information or to preregister, contact Clark by phone at 712-769-2200 or by email at email@example.com or email Leann Plowman-Tibken at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) – State officials and propane suppliers are advising consumers to fill their tanks before cold weather arrives because prices could climb again this winter. The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports prices will largely depend on how cold it is this winter and how long the cold lasts. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is telling farmers and homeowners to buy ahead of time.
Last winter dwindling Midwest supplies and rising demand pushed propane prices to more than three times normal to nearly $5 per gallon. Northey doesn’t expect prices that high but he says it is important to think ahead. Iowa historically received about 20 percent of its propane from a 1,900-mile pipeline that no longer carries it.
As a result, Iowans are increasingly reliant on propane from Kansas which costs more.
A former state legislator who once got in a national spat with Oprah Winfrey has died. Berl Priebe of Algona served in the Iowa House for four years and in the Iowa Senate for 24 years. Priebe, who raised Angus cattle, took offense to a 1996 Oprah Winfrey show about Mad Cow Disease. Priebe blamed Winfrey for the dramatic drop in U.S. cattle prices. He demanded that Winfrey tell her viewers Mad Cow Disease had not been found in the United States.
In 1988, Priebe brought an Iowa State University nutritionist before his Senate Ag Committee to complain about her warning that there might be a link between grilled red meat and cancer. Priebe quipped that the researcher “got a taste of what it was like to be on the griddle for a while.” Priebe was one of four senators — two Democrats and two Republican — who were known as the “Montana Mafia.”
The senators were known for gathering at Montana’s — a bar near the statehouse — to plot strategy for killing bills they opposed in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Former Senator Jack Rife, a farmer from Moscow, Iowa, who later became the state Senate’s Republican Leader, was a member of the Montana Mafia. “He was a colorful character,” Rife says. “I enjoyed him very much.” Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, the current Democratic leader in the state senate, says Priebe had the unique ability to bring the senate to a stand-still.
“He was always quite adept and quite talented at figuring out the kind of amendment to offer that would put the place in a really uncomfortable position,” Gronstal says. Priebe then would often engage in what Priebe called “horse trading” to get something he wanted, in exchange for removing the roadblock he’d designed for another bill. “It was great when he was on your side and it was maddening when he wasn’t because he could tie the place up pretty well,” Gronstal says. This example from Gronstal illustrates Priebe’s ability to maneuver the levers of the legislature:
“Berl Priebe always passed the first bill of the session, some bill out of ag committee…every single year. Even if somebody else was ahead of him, he figured out some way to make sure that his bill was the first bill to pass in the legislature.” Priebe was also the long-time chairman of a powerful legislative committee that has the power to reject the rules and regulations state bureaucrats propose. Priebe died Sunday at the age of 96. A memorial service for Priebe will be held Friday afternoon in Algona.