An agricultural economist says Iowa’s corn and soybean producers need to prepare for tougher economic times ahead. Mike Boehlje, at Purdue University, says he does not expect the setback to be as severe as it was during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s, but he assures, a fall is coming from the flush years farmers have been enjoying. “In contrast to the 1980s as well as the 1930s where we had busts after the booms, we think we’re going to have a soft landing off of this one,” Boehlje says. “It doesn’t mean that farmers aren’t going to have to adjust to a different kind of business climate. We’ve had record incomes set and now the USDA’s numbers are showing that we’re going to be down about 30% in terms of income.”
Boehlje says farmers tend to focus too much on the prices they get for their crops. “What I tell farmers is, the first and most important marketing decision you make is what you pay for your inputs, it’s not what you sell your product for,” Boehlje says. “You’ve got control over what you pay for your inputs. You don’t have nearly as much control of what you sell your products for. Farmers ought to spend a lot of time thinking now about negotiating the right prices for their inputs.” He says the toughest of those input prices to negotiate is likely the rental agreement.
Boehlje says farmers should begin the conversation now with landowners to adjust for lower rent for 2015. He describes the relationship between the farmer and his lender as “essential and critical.” “The conversation with the lender the last four or five years has been more, ‘How’s the family, how’s the kids, how ’bout that football game, and oh, yeah, you want money? Here, just sign the papers,'” Boehlje says. “It’s not going to be that way this next four or five years. There’s going to be tougher conversations asking for more documentation.” Boehlje says farmers can add to their bottom line by looking for ways to meet specific needs of some of the processors to whom they sell grain.
KELLERTON, Iowa (AP) – People are invited to Ringgold County on Saturday to watch prairie chickens dance about in a courtship ritual. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the Annual Prairie Chicken Festival will start before dawn Saturday at the Grand River Grassland Bird Conservation Area. A wildlife viewing platform is available at the site, just southwest of Kellerton.
The DNR will provide spotting scopes and binoculars as well as coffee for early risers who can watch the birds as they dance and make booming noises. The action will end around 9:30 a.m. Prairie chickens had been absent from the area since the 1950s but in recent years were reintroduced to the region.
The Shelby County Board of Supervisors heard an update on the Shelby County Trails project. In a meeting held Tuesday, Brian Leaders with the National Park Services provided an update on what the Shelby County Trails Committee has been creating over the last several months. Leaders said he has been working with other surrounding counties such as Pottawattamie County to establish a county-wide plan where other counties would link up hiking/biking trails. Since October of 2013, the Shelby County Trail Committee has been working with the public to come up with where they would like to see trails constructed in the county.
Leaders said the highest priority trail the public wanted from the meetings was from Avoca to Harlan and the other was on highway 191. “We have people on railroad highway 191 all the time. They ride from Council Bluffs to Underwood to Neola. They may end turn around and come back or take another route. So that route through Harrison and Shelby County is very popular.” He says the main reason for the trails is to help communities with economic growth.
“By developing trails to some degree some communities to experience positive economic growth. I will be honest not all of them do. It all depends on the area. Depends on the trail and where it connects to. And depends on the proximity to other communities.” A map was presented to the supervisors as a guiding tool but not a finalization where the maps will actually be placed. Leaders said the process is quite lengthy and will take years to establish and develop.
“It’s a long process. I think I told the group the first time I met with them this could be a 25, 30, 40 year plan. As we know nothing moves quickly and funding isn’t necessarily available for trail projects.” He pointed out the previous county’s Supervisors have approved a resolution to support the county trail committees and help with the process without donating money right away. However, Shelby County Supervisor Steve Kenkel cautioned that motion as he didn’t want the supervisors to be tied to the specific map that was handed out.
Instead, Shelby County Auditor Marsha Carter made a separate motion. “To support the development of trails in Shelby County for the healthy and wellness benefit of its residents and to encourage economic growth and to recognize that the committee has developed a county-wide trail plan.” The motion was approved. Leaders said the next step for the Shelby County Trails Committee is to start applying for grant funding.
Officials with the Atlantic Fire Department put out a plea on their social media website, asking residents not to do any open burning “Of any type, or discard of any smoking material. This includes burning trash!!” Recent and continuing high, sustained winds and dry conditions have contributed to many fires across southwest Iowa. The AFVD says they hope that by spreading the word on open burning and being safe in discarding smoking materials, and will voluntary compliance, authorities will not have to issue a Burn Ban.
A carelessly discarded cigarette from a passing vehicle is being blamed for a large grass fire that occurred Monday afternoon north of Interstate 80, in Adair County. Adair Fire Chief Jordan Smith told KJAN News the fire started about two-miles east of the Adair Exit (77.5-mile marker) and was first paged out just before 3-pm, Monday. Smith said with the way the wind was blowing, the fire burned east-northeast along and north of the Interstate for about 2-miles. Firefighters managed to get the flames knocked down before they reached the westbound rest area, but not before the fire jumped 2 gravels roads as it raged eastward.
After the flames jumped one gravel road, and destroyed large, round hay bales. He said 50-to 60 bales were lost. Smith said hay bale fires are almost impossible to extinguish unless you spread them out and hose them down, which is dangerous and time consuming. A neighboring farmer who has construction equipment used his excavator and dug a big hole to dump the bales in and cover them up, allow the fire to be snuffed out.
Three firefighters from Adair suffered minor injuries while fighting the blaze. Smith says two had smoke inhalation, with another had minor burns to his face. The thick curtain of smoke created problems for motorists along Interstate 80. Visibility along the interstate was down to zero at time. Several law enforcement agencies were requested for traffic control. The eye-catching fire also attracted “rubber-neckers,” who Smith says can be a real hindrance to fire fighting efforts, and endanger lives.
Smith says firefighters from Adair, Casey, Stuart, Menlo, Anita, Wiota, Greenfield, Bridgewater, and Fontanelle were on the scene for about 5-hours, finally wrapping things up at around 8-pm, Monday.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – The number of acres devoted to corn is expected to shrink about 4 percent this year as farmers devote more of their land to soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual forecast Monday of what farmers plan to plant. The USDA says it expects 91.7 million acres of corn to be planted this year, down from 95.37 million acres last year.
The number of acres devoted to soybeans is expected to grow about 6 percent to 81.5 million acres from last year’s 76.5 million acres. Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser says farmers are responding to predictions for tight soybean supplies and relatively high crop prices. Gaesser, who serves as president of the American Soybean Association, says demand for soybeans is clearly high going into this year.
The Fire Danger signs throughout Shelby County will remain in the HIGH category this week. Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says although the County experienced some precipitation (.30”) in the last 24 hours, the placards will remain in the HIGH category due to predicted winds, and lower Relative Humidity today.
Seivert says until we get more green grasses growing, the fine dead fuels will continue to pose a HIGH fire danger with wind, and low humidity. Officials are asking residents to postpone burning until at least Thursday.
If you must burn, contact your local Fire Chief to make sure that are made aware, and provides authorization for the burn. If a burn is allowed to occur we ask the Chief to call 712-755-2124 and advise the Communications Center that a burn will take place.
AREA COUNTIES: SAC-CRAWFORD-CARROLL-AUDUBON-GUTHRIE-DALLAS-CASS-ADAIR-MADISON-ADAMS-UNION-TAYLOR-RINGGOLD
603 AM CDT SUN MAR 30 2014
…ELEVATED FIRE DANGER THIS AFTERNOON…
STRONG SOUTH WINDS OF 25 TO 30 MPH…WITH GUSTS NEAR 40 MPH AT
TIMES…WILL DEVELOP ACROSS THE AREA LATE THIS MORNING AND
AFTERNOON. THE GUSTY WINDS WILL PERSIST THROUGH EARLY EVENING. IN
ADDITION…RATHER DRY AIR IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE AREA WITH
RELATIVE HUMIDITY FALLING TO AROUND 30 TO 35 PERCENT AT TIMES
TODAY FROM NOON THROUGH EARLY EVENING. THIS WILL LEAD TO AN
ENHANCED FIRE DANGER…WITH ANY FIRES THAT START EXPECTED TO
SPREAD RAPIDLY. BURNING IS HIGHLY DISCOURAGED TODAY.
SIMILAR CONDITIONS WILL RETURN TO SOUTHWEST AREAS MONDAY WITH
GUSTY WEST TO SOUTHWEST WINDS AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Friday, released their latest precipitation information and drought report. Officials say the past two weeks have been unusually dry across most of Iowa. The statewide average precipitation was 0.19 inches, while normal for the period is 1.01 inches. Salem in Henry County in southeast Iowa was one exception, receiving over an inch during this period. Precipitation in Cass and surrounding Counties is 10-percent below normal for the period covering March 12th through the 26th.
About seven percent of the state remains in severe drought, while about half of the state is rated in moderate drought, including most of western and southern Iowa, with the exception of Adair, Guthrie and Dallas Counties, which are “Abnormally Dry.” This is reflected in the drop of average stream flow in Iowa. Recent rains are reflected in the stream flow index upturn for the past few days.
South of Interstate 80, ice is almost completely gone from rivers. Iowa DNR fisheries biologists continue to monitor oxygen levels in many waters and have seen some slight improvements in some places. Considerable areas of ice remain in northern Iowa.
For a more thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends March 12th through March 26th, go to http://www.iowadnr.gov/watersummaryupdate.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court says an attorney won’t be sanctioned for helping a wealthy farmer shield his assets from the estate of another farmer he killed. The court declined to reprimand Indianola attorney Mason Ouderkirk, ruling Friday he didn’t violate ethical rules while representing Rodney Heemstra.
Heemstra fatally shot his neighbor, Tommy Lyon, in 2003 during a dispute over farmland and then hid his body. He was convicted of first-degree murder but later granted a second trial, where he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter. After Heemstra was charged, Ouderkirk assisted his family in transferring ownership of millions of dollars of farmland into trusts.
A judge later ruled that those transactions were fraudulent and designed to shield assets from Lyon’s estate, which had been awarded millions in a wrongful-death lawsuit.