KJAN Ag/Outdoor

REAP city parks and open spaces Grants Approved

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 15th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Natural Resource Commission of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) grants to 24 cities for use in parks and open spaces during its October meeting. The projects were awarded nearly $2.4 million. The REAP City Parks and Open Space competitive grants help cities establish natural areas, encouraging outdoor recreation and resource management. Cities were separated into three categories: population under 2,000, population 2,000 – 25,000 and population over 25,000.

For cities with a population of under 2000:

The City of Avoca received $71,078 for the Old Nishnabotna Riverbed Wetland Preservation and Trail Project, which involves construction of a 1,900 Linear Foot trail, wetland and wildlife habitat conservation and installation of interpretive aids for public education. The project has a positive relationship to and compliments, the Nishnabotna River Trail. It also satisfies local and statewide goals for outdoor recreation by providing a wellness opportunity (trail), restoring and protecting a wetland area and habitat that is threatened and providing public educational opportunities.

And, the City of Manning received $45,811 for the Manning Hospital/Parks Connector Trail Bridge. Officials say this is the final phase in the City’s portion of the Hospital-Parks Connector Trail. Previous phases paved trail from the hospital to the West Nishnabotna River on the west and from the downtown and City Park to the river on the east. The project will build the bridge and the bridge approaches between the two dead-end trails. It will literally bridge the gap between the heart of the community, the hospital and the county park.

In the cities larger than 25,000 category:

Council BluffsFairmount Park Woodland Restoration Phase Two, received $200,000. The project includes land restoration, trail development, neighborhood connection and directional signage. Invasive plant species will be removed, chipped for trail surfacing and placed on the trails. The trails developed will be 5400 feet in length. Signs will be installed to direct park users to the trails and destination points in the park.

High Fire Danger across parts of IA today (Thursday)

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

October 15th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

338 AM CDT THU OCT 15 2015




12 grants awarded to help promote specialty crops in IA

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Wednesday) announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will be awarding grants to twelve Iowa projects to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. The Department received slightly more than $296,720 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to support the program.

Included among the grant recipients is Prairie Moonwort Hops Farm, LLC. The business will receive a $9,100 grant to determine the viability of hops plants, within the small plot (less than 10 acre) field common in the Loess Hills region of western Iowa, and to prove the marketability of “locally grown” hops to the emerging craft beer industry.

Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, and producer groups were eligible to apply for funding. The maximum grant award from the Department to sub-grantees is $24,000 and administrative and indirect costs were not allowed.

Grant funds will be used for projects that benefit and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops industry as a whole, and cannot be for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.

“Specialty Crops” are eligible under the program include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. The funds not passed through will be used by the Department to administer the grant.

The rest of the grant recipients are as follows:

  • Iowa Department of Public Health – WIC – $24,000 to increase the sales of fruit and vegetables at Iowa farmers markets and the consumption of various specialty crops resulting from an advertising campaign promoting the usage of the farmers market checks distributed to WIC participants.
  • Iowa Lakes Community College – $20,000 to educate community youth, adults with disabilities, college students, and community patrons on specialty crop gardening, the nutritional benefits of locally-grown food, the physical benefits of gardening, and the economic resourcefulness of local produce programs.
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa – $24,000 to enhance collaborative on-farm research and farmer to farmer knowledge sharing for successful specialty crops in Iowa.
  • Iowa Food Hub dba Allamakee New Beginnings – $10,500 to enhance the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)/Good Handling Practices (GHP) cost share program for Iowa fruit and vegetable producers.
  • Iowa Honey Producers Association – $8,581 to establish an online searchable bee law website for general public use.
  • Lutheran Services of Iowa – $24,000 to help refugees in Iowa improve their production of specialty crops and increase the availability of their produce to the public and to begin to transition their specialty crop businesses to independent operations.
  • Iowa City Parks and Rec – $23,990 to create and teach within edible classrooms in order to promote specialty crops in Iowa City for community involvement at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center.
  • New Hope Community, Inc. – $22,643 to establish and create the Mahaska County season extension demonstration project for specialty crop production.
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Farm to School Program – $14,900 to teach students through hands-on lessons about all aspects of gardening and healthy environmental alternatives to composting in a specialty crop environment.
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship – $46,693 to conduct the Iowa commercial horticulture food crops survey and economic impact study.
  • The Iowa Wine Trail – $24,000 to increase awareness of specialty grape crops in Iowa through a marketing campaign.

USDA awards contracts to 2 companies for bird flu vaccines

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A federal agency has awarded contracts to two companies to manufacture a bird flu vaccine. But officials haven’t decided whether to give the doses to poultry to protect against a disease that led to the destruction of 48 million chickens and turkeys this spring. The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it had awarded contracts to Harrisvaccines of Ames, Iowa, and Ceva, a company based in France. The USDA didn’t release the cost of the contracts.

As part of the agreement, the companies agreed to manufacture an unspecified number of doses, store them for up to five years and deliver them throughout the U.S. within 10 days. The USDA says it would need to decide whether the treatment would be effective and weigh potential trade effects before using any vaccine.

Southwest Iowa lagging behind in harvest

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

October 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The latest U-S-D-A crop report shows the harvest is 12 days ahead of last year for corn and 10 days ahead for soybeans, but one section of the state is lagging well behind those numbers. Iowa State University agronomist Aaron Saeugling monitors 12-southwest Iowa counties.  “In southwest Iowa it’s going to be a long fall,” Saeugling says.

That’s because constant rains, some often several inches, delayed planting and kept some fields from being planted. That makes for a lot of different scenarios in the fields. ”I’ve got producers who are wrapping up soybeans and I’ve got producers that haven’t started,” according to Saeugling.

It’s not all of southwest Iowa — not even all of some farms. “So for those guys it’s kind of bittersweet,” Saeugling says, “they’ve got fields that are yielding better than they ever dreamed of. They’ve got fields they won’t harvest.” Either way, the area is well behind the statewide average for corn of 20 percent harvested and 65 percent for soybeans. “If I had to average — probably pushing really close to fifty-percent on beans. Corn right now, maybe twenty percent,” Saeugling estimates.

In contrast, in northwest Iowa where things were drier, an agronomist reports two-thirds of the corn and nearly all of the soybeans are already harvested.

(Radio Iowa)



October 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Cass County: Corn $3.32, Beans $8.38
Adair County: Corn $3.29, Beans $8.41
Adams County: Corn $3.29, Beans $8.37
Audubon County: Corn $3.31, Beans $8.40
East Pottawattamie County: Corn $3.35, Beans $8.38
Guthrie County: Corn $3.34, Beans $8.42
Montgomery County: Corn $3.34, Beans $8.40
Shelby County: Corn $3.35, Beans $8.38

Oats $2.17 (always the same in all counties)

(Information from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency offices)

Lagging farm economy worries state financial experts

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A three-member panel of financial experts is lowering its estimate of state tax collections. The Revenue Estimating Conference is still predicting overall state tax revenue will be up three-point-four percent for the year, but the group shaved 121 million dollars off the total compared to its March prediction. Iowa Department of Management director Dave Roederer says he and the other two panel members are concerned about what’s happening in the farm economy.

“When producers are producing corn and soybeans at a loss, that means that there’s going to be less revenue coming into the state,” Roederer says. Roederer says when farmers have a down year, that tends to have a ripple effect throughout the Iowa economy. Roederer, though, points to Iowa’s low unemployment rate as a positive sign.

“The economy is more partly cloudy than anything else,” Roederer says. The state is just three months into the budgeting year and Roederer says there’s no cause for alarm since the group is still predicting Iowans will pay 235 MILLION dollars MORE in taxes this year than last.

(Radio Iowa)

Shelby County implements Fire Danger Monitoring

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 13th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Shelby County Emergency Service Officials, including Fire Chiefs, Law Enforcement, and Emergency Management will begin twice weekly updates on local fire danger conditions. Signs placed strategically in each community, primarily at the fire Stations will indicate what the fire danger is for any particular day.

This program, implemented in 2010, resulted in a reduction of fire responses countywide. The continuous bi weekly fire danger assessments are provided by email to the media, Fire Chiefs, and others who support the program on their web pages, through radio, and cable TV information pages. Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says that has reduced the need for the county to implement a complete burn ban.

If you live in Shelby County and need to burn a pile of brush, debris, or buildings, contact the Emergency Management Agency at 755-2124. The dispatchers will obtain the location and nature of the planned burn and will provide the caller with the Fire Chiefs contact information. Through this expanded communication process, Seivert says they have found some burns can be rescheduled to a different time of day, where wind and moisture level is more acceptable. The Fire Chiefs can have input as to how the burn can be conducted safely and be aware of the activity should it become unmanageable.

Shelby County has four, distinct, color coded levels:
LOW – You are asked to call in and report your burning projects to dispatch at 712-755-2124, and notify your local Fire Chief.
Moderate – You are asked to call in and report your burning projects to dispatch at 712-755-2124, and notify your local Fire Chief. Timing for burns should be morning, or evening hours and extinguished by dark unless authorized by Fire Chief due to possible impacts to roads and health from smoke. Burns must be monitored at all times.
High – Burning of any kind is restricted unless approval is received from local Fire Chief. Controlled burns that are not reported will result in Fire Department being dispatched, and Fires extinguished if determined to be un-safe. Please call 712-755-2124 with questions.
Extreme – Burning is prohibited, unless you have a signed permit from the local Fire Chief. Fires on Extreme days can grow rapidly and pose a risk to the Health and Safety of the Community. If you have any questions please call 712-755-2124.

The Emergency Management Agency uses a combination of the National Weather Service, actual local field measurements, and assessment of local conditions in determining the potential for dangerous fires. With continuing dry weather expected, the availability of fuel through the drying out of the crops will continue to increase the potential for devastating fires, here, in Iowa. The goal is to prevent fires, through good communication, public cooperation, and planning.

Iowa Transportation Commission approves funding for State Recreational Trails Program

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 13th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Transportation Commission today (Tuesday) approved $3.4 million for six State Recreational Trails Program projects. Included among them was the Hospital Connector Trail Bridge, in Manning, which received $222,300.
The State Recreational Trails Program was created in 1988 with the purpose of developing and maintaining recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both motorized and non-motorized trail users. The funding is available to cities, counties, state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit organizations through an annual application-based program.

Burn ban possible in Cass County

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

October 12th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees reports Cass County Fire Chiefs have been discussing a possible Burn Ban for Cass County. The Chiefs contacted Cass County Emergency Management Director Mike Kennon, after receiving some concerns by local residents. McNees says at this time, the overall consensus is to remind residents that conditions today (Monday) are very dangerous and ANY open burning should not be conducted. All precautions should be taken by farmers harvesting their crops to clean and maintain their equipment to help prevent equipment fires that could easily result in a large out of control field fire.

Atlantic Chief Mark McNees says also, “ At this moment it seems to be a typical fall harvest season with a large fuel load of unharvested crops. However, there are still reasonably green areas surrounding fields and some areas that are fairly wet in parts of the county. At the current pace, and with the two week outlook in the forecast, it appears much of the harvest will be completed within 2 to 3 weeks. I would not encourage any open burning until later in the fall or early winter when the crops are out and there may have been some more precipitation. It would be best to wait as long as possible. If conditions worsen greatly a ban may be issued and residents will be advised.”

Grassland Fire Danger Index 10/12/15

Grassland Fire Danger Index 10/12/15

It is best always to contact your local fire department chief before any burns are conducted to get their advice and to give notice that a burn is being planned. Cass County has been very successful the past few years in keeping wildland fires from occurring by communicating with residents in this regard.

McNees added, “Several area departments have specifically trained to conduct prescribed burns for CRP mid management burns, and have instituted programs to do other planned, controlled burns for landowners in their districts. This provides a much safer and timely outcome for everyone. Fire departments can train, plan, and conduct land burns at times when they have personnel, and landowners benefit from the control of such burns.”

Landowners are encouraged to contact their departments now if they would like to discuss such burns, including the timing, areas, and costs. McNees says “ last year Atlantic began a program for prescribed burns and it became difficult to get them all done when several waited until late to make requests. Departments want to stay within their districts, but will aid neighboring departments if necessary, which is another reason to contact your department to see if they have such a program instituted and can assist the landowner.”