The Iowa House has passed a bill that would allow all-terrain vehicles on all rural roads and county highways in Iowa. Four-wheel A-T-V’s currently can be driven on those roads if they’re being used for farming and some cities and counties have ordinances allowing A-T-V’s on local roads. Representative Kurt Hansen, a Democrat from Fairfield, says he’s heard from rural Iowans who aren’t thrilled with the idea of letting anyone drive an A-T-V on a rural road.
“Their concern is that they have a lot of remote properties — their properties are vulnerable to theft and vandalism — and they’re worried about a new group of people coming into the county, operating these vehicles and harming their property,” Hansen says. “The concern also centered around people going down a narrow gravel road with a hill and finding one of these vehicles driven down the highway. Now we have just a few. Could this open it up to just a whole bunch of vehicles?”
Representative Sally Stutsman, a Democrat from Riverside, says the bill should have required safety equipment on A-T-Vs — like seat belts and roll-bars — if these vehicles are going to be driven on roads. “I continue to have grave concerns about allowing the use of vehicles that the manufacturers specifically say are not to be used on roads,” Stutsman says. “…What makes these such good vehicles for off-roads are the very things that makes them dangerous for on-roads.”
Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says she’s talked to her brother about A-T-Vs — because he sells them. “And he has said these were never, ever, ever meant to be ridden on the road,” Mascher says. “They were not constructed for that.” The House passed the bill by a wide margin — a vote of 70 to 28. Representative Brian Moore, a Republican from Bellevue, was the only House member to speak in favor of the bill.
“I do know where these particular vehicles are riding now where they’re forced to ride out in pastures or timber ground or even parks where they don’t know the layout and you can’t see the layout of the ground,” Moore says. “I think the gravel road system we have and the secondary system I think is going to be a much safer place than what they have offered to them now.”
A similar bill recently passed a Senate committee. A bill to allow ATVs on rural roads passed the Republican-led House during the 2013 legislative session, but stalled in the Democratically-controlled Senate. A legislative committee then studied the issue last fall, hearing from both sides in the debate.
The Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District will be hosting a Cover Crop meeting on Wednesday, March 12th at the Cass County Community Center. The meeting will start at 1:00 pm and run till 3:30pm. Doors will open at 12:30 to the public. Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture will speak during the meeting about Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Matt Lechtenberg from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation will also present information about the Iowa Water Quality Initiatives. There will also be a panel of local producers that will give their account of how they have incorporated cover crops to their own farm operations.
The Cass County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners are: Greg Zellmer, Fred Kay, Ray Wilson, Curt Behrends, and Chase Wheatley along with Assistant Commissioner Alan Peterson.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says he has joined a lawsuit seeking to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens. Branstad announced Thursday he’d joined the lawsuit filed in February by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Attorneys general in Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma also have joined the lawsuit.
It seeks to block a California law taking effect in 2015 that prohibits eggs from being sold there if they come from hens raised in cages that don’t comply with California’s new size and space requirements. The voter-approved law requires that egg-laying hens, pigs and calves be given enough space to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs.
Iowa is the nation’s top egg producer. About 9 percent of those eggs are sold in California.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that he will be visiting Pottawattamie, Mills, Fremont, Page, Sac, Carroll, Audubon and Cass Counties from Monday, March 10th through Wednesday, March 12th.
On Monday Northey will present the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award in Oakland, visit Mulholland Grocery in Malvern, tour Green Plains Renewable Energy in Shenandoah and then speak to an Iowa Corn Growers Association meeting in Shenandoah. On Tuesday Northey will speak at a cover crop meeting in Sac City, tour a feedlot in Carroll and then visit the John James Audubon Cultural Center in Audubon. On Wednesday he will attend of the Triumph of Ag Expo in Omaha, Nebraska and then speak at a cover crop event in Atlantic.
Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.
Details of his trip are as follows…..
Monday, March 10, 2014
Pottawattamie County – 11:30 a.m., present the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award, Oakland Community Center, 614 Dr. Van Zee Rd., Oakland
Mills County – 2:45 p.m., visit Mulholland Grocery, 409 Main St., Malvern
Fremont County – 4:30 p.m., tour Green Plains Renewable Energy, 4124 Airport Rd., Shenandoah
Page County – 7:00 p.m., speak to Iowa Corn Growers Association meeting, the Elks Lodge, 701 S. Fremont St., Shenandoah
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Sac County – 11:00 a.m., speak to cover crop meeting, First Presbyterian Church, 812 Audubon St., Sac City
Carroll County – 1:00 p.m., tour a cattle feedlot. (This is a private tour, but would be available for interviews beforehand or afterwards)
Audubon County – 2:30 p.m., visit John James Audubon Cultural Center, 401 N. Park Place, Audubon
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Omaha, Nebraska – Noon, attend Triumph of Ag Expo opening lunch, CenturyLink Center, 455 North 10th St., Omaha, NE
Cass County – 2:30 p.m., speak to cover crop meeting, Cass County Community Center, 805 W. 10th St., Atlantic.
Now is the time to plan and plant for future gardens. The Cass County Master Gardeners group is offering a total of $1500 in grant money to be used in the 2014 growing season, to encourage gardening to grow food and/or beautify local communities. The money may also be used for gardening education purposes. The David Williams Master Gardener Grants are offered to honor the many years of service Master Gardener David Williams provided as a long-time volunteer, with the Master Gardener program and other community organizations, including a term as Cass County Master Gardener president in 2012.
Any Cass County not-for-profit group or individual may apply. Schools, churches, libraries, 4-H clubs, Scouts, and individuals working to improving their communities can use the money to begin or improve gardens or landscaping, or to provide education for their members or the public. To ensure the money is helping a wide variety of community organizations, groups who were funded by 2012 and 2013 grants will not be eligible to apply in 2014. Each grant has a maximum value of $300. The application must also include plans for teamwork and sustainability. Consideration for the environment is also an important selection factor.
Applications must be received by Thursday, April 10th for consideration. They may be submitted by mail or email. Grant recipients will be informed of their selection by the end of April. More information, and a grant application, is available on the Cass County Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu/cass or by calling the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132, emailing email@example.com, or stopping by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic. You may also contact committee members Judy Kennedy, LaVon Eblen, Connie Jones or Carolyn Hartmann for more information.
The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The program is available in all 50 states and Canada through land grant university Extension programs such as Iowa State University. Education courses are available throughout Iowa on a regular basis. Contact Cass County Extension Program Coordinator Kate Olson, at 712-243-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
An energy analyst with the Iowa Department of Agriculture is predicting higher prices for propane are here to stay. Harold Hommes says prices in Iowa have dropped dramatically since hitting the $5 a gallon level in late January, but Iowans should expect to pay more than they did last summer when the average price was around a dollar. “We’re not going to return to the prices we saw this past winter, we’re far from that, but I believe higher prices are here to stay in that market,” Hommes says.
Traditionally, domestic customers have held down values, according to Hommes, but the marketplace is evolving and producers now send the propane to places like Asia where they can make the most profit. “We now export about 400,000 barrels a day and that demand is likely going to continue for the foreseeable future. I don’t see that situation changing,” Hommes says.
This week’s survey places the average price per gallon of propane at two dollars and 59 cents ($2.59). About 15-percent of Iowa homes are heated with propane, mainly in rural areas.
A meeting set for March 4th near Lewis will bring together a group of about 80 farmers and landowners from across southwest Iowa, who are always looking for ways to improve the agricultural income of farmers, and members of the Wallace Foundation. Members of the IQPA Organization (Iowa Quality Producers Alliance) will hold their 14th annual meeting at the ISU Armstrong Research Farm, from 8:30-until 9:40-a.m.
The IQPA Meeting is being held before the Wallace Foundation’s 23rd Annual Meeting, since many of the IQPA members belong to both groups. The IQPA meeting will include election/reelection of Board Managers, whose terms are expiring, filling any vacancy on the Executive Committee, and IQPA financial report.
An update on the Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy Ethanol Plant (SIRE) will be given by IQPA Board member Ted Bauer. IQPA member, Veral Bailey of Anita, will present a 20 minute program entitled “Walking on the Moon comes to Southwest Iowa, Understanding TELEMETRY”. Bailey will review some of the current ways equipment monitoring data is used by farmers such as yield maps, grid sampling maps, and codes to indicate equipment repair problems.
New items now appearing on the horizon such as CLOUD, mega data analysis, predict crop yields, precision field and animal management are just a few items. Bailey will share his thoughts on how these Challenges and Opportunities can be of value to individual farmers if they understand these new developments in agriculture.
For more information, call Mrs. Billie Wilson, President of the IQPA Organization, at 712-789-0705, or Ag Consultant Ron Sanson at 712-303 – 8222.