DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Recent heavy rainfall has washed away or at least lessened drought conditions in swaths of Nebraska and Iowa. A report released Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says drenching rains led to significant improvements for areas of the two states considered to be in drought. Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the center, says overall drought reduced last week by nearly 12 percent in Iowa and about 17 percent in Nebraska.
The report says western Iowa saw the greatest improvement in the state. Nebraska saw a substantial reduction in the east-central region, with a pocket now considered drought-free. Fuchs says the improvements seen within the past week are noteworthy, as changes in drought status typically occur slowly.
The Atlantic FFA Chapter is excited to tell you about a great way to help our FFA Chapter receive free money. It’s called The Red Brand Home Grown Program. Now through December 31st, up to $1.00 for every roll of qualifying Red Brand fence orders will be donated directly to the Atlantic FFA Chapter.
This year the Atlantic FFA has 2 sponsoring retailers, Cappel’s Ace Hardware and Orscheln Farm & Home both from Atlantic.
Last year, individual FFA chapters throughout the country received hundreds of dollars directly through Home Grown. Some even received thousands!
The Atlantic FFA Chapter could really use this kind of support. If you, or anyone you know, needs fence, we’d appreciate you buying Red Brand. Just make sure you purchase it at Cappel’s Ace Hardware or Orscheln Farm & Home – so the Home Grown dollars go to our chapter. You can get all the details about Home Grown at redbrand.com/homegrown. Or, ask a local FFA member and they can tell you all about it.
Officials with the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service say the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley, will be closed to mushroom hunting this weekend (May 17th and 18th), because of a turkey hunt.
The refuge roads, trails and visitor center will be open as normal, though.
DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge is a destination for people who want to explore the habitats and wildlife of the Missouri River and get a glimpse of what pre-settlement Iowa and Nebraska may have looked like. It’s located 25 miles north of Omaha on U.S. Highway 30, between Missouri Valley and Blair, Neb. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except federal holidays.
Iowa has more than 200 farms that are raising over 32,000 dairy goats. The primary product produced from goats raised in Iowa is cheese, but in many parts of the world where hunger is a major problem, goats are the primary livestock. Tad Sonstegard is a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Ninety percent of the world’s goats are actually in nations with developing economies where people usually don’t have enough food. So it’s a very critical meat and milk source in these nations,” Sonstegard says.
USDA scientists say one of the problems is that in many rapidly developing and undeveloped countries the best goat is eaten during celebrations or sold quickly to make money. “Thus, that opportunity to improve the genetics is lost because the animal goes into food immediately,” Sonstegard says. Sonstegard and his colleagues are studying the genetics of goats in Africa to figure out which ones to keep in the herd.
“And how they stack up against goats in countries, typically Europe, where they have done a lot of advanced breeding for dairy production,” Sonstegard explains. USDA officials believe research like that of Sonstegard is important to solving global food challenges. The world’s population is expected to grow from about 6.6 billion today to almost 9 billion by 2050.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A longtime summer employer in western Iowa won’t be hiring students and adults for the hot and hard work of detasseling. Siouxland Detasseling CEO Ron Foster told the Sioux City Journal that the area decline in seed corn production led to the cutback on hiring. Since 1983 Siouxland has hired more than 200 workers each summer.
Detasselers walk through the rows of corn and pull the pollinating tassels off the top of the plants that will produce seed for future planting. Siouxland Detasseling crews usually work fields north of Onawa to Salix in Iowa and the Jefferson and Elk Point areas in South Dakota.
Some federal officials suggest the Farm Bill should be split in two, separating agricultural policies from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, argues that food stamps play a big role in ag income and the two should remain united under one piece of legislation. Vilsack says, “When 15-cents of every food dollar that’s spent in the grocery store ends up ultimately in farmers’ pockets, the reality is that the safety net, the nutrition assistance program, is also part of the overall stabilizing farm prices and making sure we have adequate income for our producers to keep them in business.”
Some Washington leaders have suggested the coalition between agricultural and nutrition interests no longer works, but Vilsack disagrees. “When 15% of America’s population lives in rural America and 85% lives in urban and suburban America and there’s such a disconnect oftentimes between folks who consume and folks who produce our food,” Vilsack says, “it may be difficult in the future if you separate the nutrition programs and the farm programs to get a farm bill done.” Vilsack understands why some have suggested splitting SNAP and ag programs, given the difficulty in passing the last Farm Bill.
“I would sincerely hope that we wouldn’t try to disconnect the two because I think it would make it very difficult to get farm bills and farm programs supported in Congress,” he says. Vilsack argues the nutrition programs provide a safety net for farm income. SNAP accounts for the largest portion of the Farm Bill, or about 768-billion dollars over ten years. Since the 2008 Farm Bill, funding for SNAP has almost doubled.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Last week was a busy one for Iowa farmers, who took advantage of dry conditions to plant nearly half of the expected corn crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday that farmers planted about 7 million acres. About 20 percent of the soybean crop, or 2 million acres, also was planted.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the heavy rain Sunday and Monday was good for those who have planted their crop but bad news for those who haven’t and now must wait for fields to dry out. As of last week, the USDA says 74 percent of topsoil was rated as adequate and 15 percent had surplus moisture.
Northwest Iowa was the driest region, with nearly one-third of topsoil reported as very short or short of moisture.
ST. LOUIS (AP) – A U.S. government report says the nation’s corn growers should have banner production this year despite lesser acreage devoted to the grain. But corn prices later in the year may suffer a bit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released Friday its first World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report of the year. The report estimates that corn producers will harvest 165.3 bushels of corn per acre, up 6.5 bushels from the previous year. Corn acreage is expected to slip to 91.7 million acres, from 95.4 million acres.
The report is the USDA’s best guess of agricultural expectations, and weather events might dramatically change the forecasts. The season-average price for corn was forecast lower, ranging from $3.85 and $4.55 per bushel. It was $4.50 to $4.80 a year earlier.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is facing criticism for proposing new livestock farm enforcement rules environmental groups and others say are not tough enough to clean up the state’s rivers and lakes. One of the critics is Bill Stowe, CEO of Des Moines Water Works.
He says the Environmental Protection Commission, which oversees the DNR, should require the agency to better monitor application of livestock manure and fertilizer to ensure too much is not being applied.
Stowe says the lack of clear standards for manure and fertilizer application is leading to contaminated water. He says it’s increasingly difficult clean enough to remain in compliance with federal clean water guidelines.
Stowe spoke Friday in Des Moines at one of six hearings the DNR is holding on proposed new rules.