KJAN Ag/Outdoor

West Central® Announces Major Soy Processing Investment |

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

West Central® Cooperative today (Wednesday) announced its plan for a $27 million, multi-year project to increase soybean processing capacity by 50 percent and build additional grain storage at its Ralston, Iowa complex.West Central Expansion image At full capacity, the expansion would create demand for an additional six million bushels of soybeans each year and create more than 11 full-time jobs. Like the current plant, the expansion will produce SoyPlus®, an industry-leading high bypass protein dairy feed ingredient used across the world.

The company plans to increase the current plant’s capacity by up to 50 percent with actual production coming online in phases. When complete, the construction project would include an additional line of mechanical presses, soybean oil treatment, load-out access, and nearly three million bushels of additional soybean storage. New production volumes are slated to be available as early as fall 2016.

At full capacity, ten of the 11 new positions will be manufacturing roles. Company officials are looking to begin the hiring process for those jobs as early as this summer.
To introduce potential applicants to the company, West Central will host a job fair for SoyPlus manufacturing positions, as well as other company positions, at their main office in Ralston on Thurs. June 11, 2015 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

During the event, staff will offer plant tours, accept applications, and conduct instant interviews. Applications are also available online now
at http://west-central.com/about/careers/.

Cass County Extension Report 06-03-2015

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

June 3rd, 2015 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olson


PQA Plus(c) & TQA Training Session Set to take place in Cass & Guthrie Counties


June 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are teaming up to provide training for pork producers and others who need certification in the Pork Quality Assurance Plus(r) v2.0 (PQA Plus(r) v2.0) and/or Transport Quality Assurance program. The certification sessions have been set for Wednesday June 24th, at the Guthrie County Extension office in Guthrie Center, and Thursday June 25th, at the Cass County Extension office in Atlantic.

Updated in June 2013, the revised in PQA Plus(r) v2.0 provides a framework for significant, relevant food safety standards and improved animal well-being. Pork producers pride themselves on the commitment to continuous improvement and the PQA Plus is regularly revised to increase its effectiveness, incorporate new research information, and ensure the program’s validity.

ISU Extension Swine Specialist Matt Swantek will be offering the TQA training both days from 12:30 – 3:00 p.m. and the PQA Plus(r) v2.0 training from 3:15 – 6:00 p.m. Training sessions are limited to 30 persons, but requires at least 5 participants are needed to hold the training sessions. All training events are sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association and are free for all Iowa pork Producers.

Pre-registration is requested to dricheson@iowapork.org or (800) 372-7675. There is an on-line recertification option for those who have current PQA Plus(r) certification. Contact Matt Swantek (mswantek@iastate.edu) or any other PQA Plus(r) v2.0 certified advisor for additional information and setting up the ability to test on-line. New certification or producers with expired certification will require a face-to-face training.”

Haz Mat experts activated for Avian Influenza response

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Council Bluffs Fire Department spokesman Justin James reports 15 members of the Iowa Hazardous Materials Task Force were activated this past weekend to assist the USDA with the monitoring of bio-security, cleaning and decontamination activities at infected premises and landfills impacted by the Avian Influenza outbreak. Members of the task force are employed by fire departments from the Cities of Council Bluffs, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, and Sioux City.

James says in addition, Capt. Mike Cheney, of the Cedar Rapids Fire Department HazMat and Special Operations provided technical assistance to the USDA in the development of cleaning and decontamination procedures, for use at impacted sites and landfills. Nine Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship staff are also assisting at infected premises to help monitor bio-security, cleaning and decontamination activities.

On a related note, officials with the Mills County Emergency Management Agency said Monday, government officials in the County are closely monitoring the arrival of bird waste at the Loess Hills Landfill, which began last Saturday, with 11 trucks bringing 21 loads for burial. The transport and burial processes were completed according to protocol developed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Officials say there were reports that three trucks bringing empty containers were incorrectly using several gravel roads for access, rather than staying on Highway34, however, the issue has since bee corrected.

Wet weather keeps farmers out of fields

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Wet weather kept farmers out of fields last week, but most of the corn crop is planted and doing well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says cool and wet condition made for only 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork last week.

About 97 percent of the corn crop has been planted and 78 percent of soybeans have been planted. Both are slightly behind last year’s progress at this time. The USDA says 80 percent of the corn crop was rated good to excellent

Nutrient Reduction Strategy meeting set for June 9th in Minden

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Neola-Henschal Watersheds Project, along with the Harrison County and West Pottawattamie County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, are sponsoring a meeting on implementing Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy in the loess soils region, Tuesday June 9th at the Minden Community Club, from 8- to 11:30-AM.

Dr. Matt Helmers, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Iowa State University, and, Jamie Benning, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Water Quality Program Manager, will be featured speakers.

Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy is two years old now. The initial reaction and burst of energy has passed, and the State is directing funds towards water quality projects. In terms of helping comply with the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, officials say the nature of the problem in the loess soils region is different than the rest of the state, requiring different solutions. Questions that need to be answered include “What are the differences in how the nutrients cycle? How should we be doing things differently? Do we need to worry more about gullies than sheet and rill erosion?”

The lion’s share of the burden is on agricultural producers and landowners. But everyone has a share of the problem, and a share of the solution. For more information about the Neola-Henschal Watersheds Project, contact West Pottawattamie County Soil and Water Conservation District, at 712-328-2489 extension 3.

The Neola – Henschal Creeks Watershed Project is supported in part by the Iowa Watershed Improvement Fund administered by the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board and with support from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation.

Atlantic native honored for service to Univ. of Idaho & the beef industry

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Dr. Carl Hunt, native of Atlantic and who graduated from the Atlantic High School in 1971, and thirty-year member of the University of Idaho faculty, was recently honored by that university’s alumni association for his service to the University and to the Idaho beef industry. After retiring as head of the University’s animal science department, Hunt continued to lead a Steer-A-Year program, in which the state’s cattle producers and other supporters annually donate steers to support animal science student scholarships and beef cattle research.

Award nomination letters emphasized Hunt’s enthusiastic work with students, both inside and outside the classroom, even after he had assumed the duties of department head. That included industry tours for students, linking them with potential employers in both cattle operations and in related industry companies, and his work with individual cattle producers across the state. The Idaho Cattle Association also recently named Hunt “Industry Leader of the Year” for his work with the state’s industry.

Idaho’s Steer-A-Year program not only provides scholarships, steer donors receive awards in accord with how their donated steers performed in the feedlot and at harvest, in gain per day, carcass cutability, leanness, and product value. Two years ago, Hunt and his wife, Maria, established the Hunt Family Beef Education and Research Foundation, to insure continued support to the beef cattle program of the University.

Hunt is the son of the late Jim and Gertrude Hunt of Atlantic and he and his brother and sister maintain land interests in the Atlantic area.

Iowa reports probable bird flu at Wright, Sac county farms

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State officials say two more probable cases of bird flu have been found at farms in Iowa. The state agriculture department announced Friday that the avian influenza has been detected at a Wright County farm where about 400,000 chickens are being raised and at a Sac County turkey farm with about 42,000 birds.

Initial testing was positive for the bird flu and samples have been sent to a federal lab in Ames for confirmation. If confirmed, the birds will be euthanized. The two cases Friday followed the Thursday announcement that a turkey farm with 17,000 birds in Hamilton County had tested positive for the disease.

The agriculture department says the virus has infected poultry at farms with more than 26 million birds.

Iowa politicians criticize proposed ethanol rules

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa leaders are criticizing a proposal from the Obama administration that would reduce the amount of ethanol blended in U.S. gasoline. Iowa leads the nation in producing ethanol, a fuel additive made mostly from corn. Under the proposal released Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of ethanol blended in to gasoline will increase, but not by as much as originally required by law.

Still, the agency didn’t decrease the standards as much as it had proposed in 2013. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad — who has lobbied aggressively for maintaining a strong standard — says in a statement that he was disappointed, but noted that the EPA made slight increases from a previous proposal. Sen. Joni Ernst says in a statement that “we can and must do better.”

Branstad extends State of Disaster Emergency w/regard to Bird Flu

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad today (Friday) announced that he is extending the State of Disaster Emergency in response to the avian flu outbreak until July 1st, 2015. The governor’s original disaster declaration was set to expire Sunday, May 31, 2015.

As of Thursday, May 28th, Iowa had 68 cases of the disease in the state. The disease is affecting birds in 18 counties. The counties affected at this time are: Buena Vista, Sac, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Kossuth, Clay, Pocahontas, Cherokee, Madison, Wright, Palo Alto, Lyon, Plymouth, Calhoun, Adair, Webster and Hamilton.

The proclamation of disaster emergency sets into motion and involves:

1. Activation of the disaster response and recovery aspect of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department’s (HSEMD) Iowa Emergency Response Plan.

2. Authorizing the use and deployment of all available state resources, supplies, equipment, and materials as are deemed reasonably necessary by the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Iowa HSEMD in order to do the following:

A. Tracking and monitoring instances of confirmed highly pathogenic avian influenza throughout the state of Iowa and the country,

B. Establishing importation restrictions and prohibitions in respect to animals suspected of suffering from this disease,

C. Rapidly detecting any presumptive or confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza within Iowa’s borders,

D. Containing the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state through depopulation, disinfections, and disposal of livestock carcasses,

E. Engaging in detection activities, contact tracking, and other investigatory work to stop the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza within our state, and

F. Elimination of the disease in those disaster counties where it has been found and lessen the risk of this disease spreading to our state as a whole.

3. Temporarily authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies and private contractors employed by the same to remove and/or dispose of live animals and animal carcasses on publicly or privately owned land when those live animals and/or carcasses threaten public health or safety.

4. Authorizes the Iowa HSEMD, the Iowa DOT, the Iowa DPS, the Iowa DNR, IDPH, other state agencies, and local law enforcement agencies to implement stop movement and stop loading restrictions and other control zone measures as are reasonably deemed necessary, including establishing buffer zones, checkpoints, and cleaning and disinfecting operations at checkpoints and borders surrounding any quarantine areas established by the IDALS or at any other location in the state of Iowa, in order to stop the spread of this contagious disease.

5. Authorizes state agencies to assist the IDALS in disinfection, depopulation, and livestock carcass disposal efforts.

6. Temporarily waives restrictions to allow for the timely and efficient disposal of poultry carcasses.

7. Temporarily suspends the regulatory provisions pertaining to hours of service for commercial vehicle drivers hauling poultry carcasses infected with or exposed to highly pathogenic avian influenza or while hauling loads otherwise related to the response to this disaster during its duration, subject to certain conditions outlined in the disaster proclamation.

Officials say the virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.