KJAN Ag/Outdoor

SNAP benefits are helping more Iowa families avoid hunger

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

About 13-percent of all Iowans now put food on the table each day with the help of SNAP benefits. The latest Farm Bill is providing some 200-million dollars in grants that will be used to help those receiving SNAP benefits to find jobs — or better paying jobs. U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the face of the SNAP program has changed in the last 40 years. “Today, only 7-8% of SNAP beneficiaries are cash welfare recipients,” Vilsack says. “It used to be that hardly anybody had income in SNAP. Today, 41% of households have somebody earning a paycheck of one kind or another. It’s a different mix of people. It’s a different kind of program than it was, ending the stereotypes, making sure people understand there are a lot of folks struggling.”

Almost 421-thousand Iowans receive monthly SNAP benefits, about 13-percent of the state’s population. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says the majority of those receiving SNAP benefits work but are under-employed or under-paid.  “Nearly three-quarters of SNAP beneficiaries are senior citizens, people with disabilities or children of moms and dads who are actually in the workforce,” Vilsack says. “Forty-one percent of SNAP beneficiaries live in households where there is income being generated by a job.” Vilsack says the grant money will be used to provide education and training, rehabilitative services for individuals in need and target hard to serve areas.

Vilsack says, “Congress in the Farm Bill basically created a fund of $200-million, said that we could use that fund to fund up to 10 pilot projects, $165-million of that 200-million will be used for actual costs and helping to create new programs and better programs and better linkages to job opportunities and 35-million will be used to evaluate those pilot projects.” Several of the pilot programs, he says, will be tested in what are considered hard-to-serve areas, including rural parts of Iowa.

(Radio Iowa)

Prospects look good for pheasant hunting during Thanksgiving

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The turkey gets all the attention during the Thanksgiving holiday, but another bird is creeping back into the spotlight this year. Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz, says after several years with their population being down, pheasants are making a comeback. “One of the traditions in Iowa was doing the pheasant hunt before the Thanksgiving meal and with improved bird numbers this year we’ve been getting pretty positive reports and I expect they’ll probably be a few more folks bringing back that tradition,” Bogenschutz says.

The pheasant season opened October 25th, and while the first few weekends are generally some of the best hunting, he says several factors have combined to make the prospects better for hunting now. “Our bird numbers were improved and on top of that we kind of had the late crop harvest, so it was a little challenging the opening week and week after there,” Bogenschutz says. “People had good success, but the birds figured out those crops were there, and most of those crops are gone now and that’s providing a few more birds that weren’t available to hunters.”

He says the latest snowfall also is a benefit to hunters. “Birds can make use of road ditches or even crop fields before we had snow and blend in pretty well, but now when things turn white the birds aren’t so comfortable just being out there in the open. That helps hunters, they can concentrate on the good areas of habitat, and that’s probably where the birds will move to as well,” Bogenschutz explains. A final count on the pheasant harvest won’t come until March, but Bogenschutz likes what he’s heard form hunters thus far.

“It’s just anecdotal reports, but they have all been positive. Folks are really pleasantly surprised with the bird numbers and the success they have been having,” Bogenschutz says. “I think that’s going to lead to probably our best bird harvest that we’ve had in a number of years.” Hunting hours for the pheasant season are 8 a-m until 4:30 p-m each day. The daily limit is three rooster pheasants. The season closes on January 10th.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowans overwhelmingly support funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Newly released polling data show an overwhelming majority of Iowans – 81 percent – now support the creation of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. The survey of Iowa voters commissioned by Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) also found that 66 percent support a revenue enhancement to fund the trust.

The trust fund was created in 2010 when 63 percent of Iowa voters approved it through a statewide ballot initiative. The next step is to fund the trust through the state sales tax, an action that must be taken by members of the Iowa Legislature. Support in the poll for raising revenues for the trust fund rose to 73 percent when it was paired with a reduction in income or property taxes for an overall reduction in taxes.

The Nature Conservancy and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation are some of the dozens of organizations that have supported Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, a coalition working together to secure a permanent, constitutionally protected source of dollars for conserving and enhancing water quality and natural areas in the state.

The poll, conducted in August 2014 by Public Opinion Strategies and released publicly today, found a strong majority of Iowa voters see these issues as serious problems:
• Pollution of rivers, lakes and streams – 86 percent
• Soil erosion from Iowa’s farmland – 86 percent
• Flooding along Iowa rivers – 89 percent
• Loss of wildlife habitat – 77 percent
• Cuts in state park funding – 71 percent

Revenues to the trust fund, estimated at $150‐180 million each year, would address all of these issues and would be subject to strict accountability measures and public audits. The poll also found that Iowa voters see conserving natural resources as ensuring a legacy for future generations, with 95 percent of those polled agreeing we need to ensure children and grandchildren can enjoy Iowa’s water, land, wildlife, and natural beauty the same way we do today.

The poll found that 82 percent of Iowa voters agree the state’s parks, trails, wildlife areas, and other public lands are an essential part of the economy. More information is available at www.iowaswaterandlandlegacy.org .

Cass County Extension Report 11-26-2014

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

November 26th, 2014 by Chris Parks

Kate Olson talks about some holiday tips and upcoming information on the farm bill.


Many Iowa farmers are donating a portion of their produce to food banks

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

As the harvest is nearly complete across Iowa, many food banks in the state are reaping the benefits of what farmers have grown. With commodity prices so low, Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says he’s encouraged so many farmers are choosing to donate some of their bounty to those in need. “They’re able to donate that to qualified food receiving agencies, food banks, and be able to get a tax credit of 15% of the value of that food they produced,” Northey says. “It’s a great way to encourage that connection, certainly to encourage the use of that locally-produced food.” It translates to a double benefit, Northey says, as farmers get a credit on their state taxes while local food banks get home-grown food.

“You do need to find one of these qualified food banks to be able to do that,” he says. “There’s an evaluation worksheet at the state of Iowa tax website.” That address is tax-dot-iowa-dot-gov and then click on the link for “Farm To Food Donation Tax Credit.” Northey notes, farmers get a credit equal to 15 percent of the value of the commodities donated or five-thousand dollars, whichever is less. Producers will get a receipt from the registered food bank or emergency feeding organization. All receipts need to be sent to the Iowa Department of Revenue by January 15th.

(Radio Iowa)

Controversial corn crib-turned-gazebo is filled with food

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A corn crib that’s caused some controversy in the western Iowa town of Carroll is being put to good use. The corn crib was being used by a couple in town as a backyard gazebo. Several neighbors have complained about the wire and metal structure, calling it an eyesore. Monday evening, Carroll residents were being challenged to fill the corn crib with canned food to be donated to the local Food Bank. Summer Parrott helped organize the food donation drive.

“Carroll is community where we help our neighbors and I really just wanted to bring everything together so we could focus on something positive during the holiday season,” Parrott said. A Girl Scout group that Parrott teaches will help collect the donations. Parrott said she was bothered by the negativity that seemed to be swirling around the community over the gazebo issue. “When I first read the news story about what was going on with the gazebo, I just immediately thought this is such a first world issue,” Parrott said. “There are so many bigger things to be worried about within the community, let alone the world, that we don’t need to keep perpetuating all of the negativity going back and forth.”

Parrott said the owners of the corn crib/gazebo, Jeff and Cindy Heuton, were quick to agree to the food drive idea when she approached them about the idea of filling the structure with canned goods.

(Radio Iowa)

Indoor Harvest Market set for this evening in Atlantic

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

About twenty vendors are expected to come together this evening for the first-ever indoor Harvest Market, in Atlantic. The event takes place from 4-to 8 pm at the Cass County Community Center, next to the fairgrounds. Project Manager of Cass County Farmers Markets, Chelsea Amundson said the Harvest Market will feature a wide variety of Winter produce, including squash, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, a wide variety of onions, garlic and dried herbs. There’s also baked bread, pies and cakes.

There will also be a great variety of local, hand-made crafts and gifts to select from. Tasting samples available at the event include goat and sheep milk cheese, and related non-edible products, such as lotions and soaps. There’s also kettle corn available for you to take home, along with chocolate chip cookies, and even beer sampling.

The family-oriented Harvest Market features lots of activities for the kids, as well, including a face painter, music and more. A recipe judging contest starts at 4-pm, with the winners, including the People’s Choice Award, being announced at 5:30.

Funding for the project, sponsored by the Cass County Local Food Policy Council and Farmers Markets of Cass County, is provided by a USDA Rural Enterprise Grant, and is supported by the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce as well as Cass County/ISU Extension.

For more information about the Harvest Market contact Chelsea Amundson at the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce at 712-243-3017.

Farm Bill Options Meeting in Atlantic on December 4

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Farmers and landowners are invited to learn more about new programs authorized by the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the Farm Bill, at an informational meeting on December 4th. The session, hosted by Iowa State University Extension and the USDA Farm Service Agency, is scheduled from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Cass County Community Center, 805 West 10th Street in Atlantic.

Tim Eggers, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Field Agricultural Economist, and Max Dirks, Cass County Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency, will lead the discussion. Because of the new Farm Bill, landowners are deciding whether to reallocate base acres and update yields. It is the first opportunity to make those changes since the 2002 Farm Bill.

According to Eggers, “Now is a good time for landowners and tenants to talk about the benefits of updating yields.” The Farm Bill meeting will introduce these new programs: Price Loss Coverage, County Agricultural Risk Coverage, and Individual Agricultural Risk Coverage. Eggers will also discuss how the new crop insurance product, Supplemental Coverage Option, interacts with the Price Loss Coverage program.

Eggers said, “The farm safety net has changed with the new Farm Bill. The common anchor across the new programs is the marketing year average price.” He continued, “I want farmers and landowners to understand their risk management options under the new Farm Bill and consider what they can protect against.”

There is no cost to attend the meeting. To make sure there are enough handouts and seats, please pre-register by calling Cass County Extension at 712-243-1132 or emailing xcass@iastate.edu

Atlantic Yard Waste site hours to change effective 11/24/14

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 20th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the City of Atlantic have announced a seasonal change in operation of hours for the Yard Waste site. Effective Monday, Nov. 24th, the Winter Hours of Operation for the site are as follows:

Saturdays, from 9:00 am. to 5:00 pm.

The City reminds the citizens to bring only trees, branches, grass, garden waste, and/or leaves.

USDA Report 11-20-2014

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

November 20th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Denny Heflin