KJAN Ag/Outdoor

USDA Expands Access to Credit to Help More Beginning and Family Farmers


October 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2014 – Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will improve farm loans by expanding eligibility and increasing lending limits to help more beginning and family farmers. As part of this effort, USDA is raising the borrowing limit for the microloan program from $35,000 to $50,000; simplify the lending processes; updating required “farming experience” to include other valuable experiences; and expanding eligible business entities to reflect changes in the way family farms are owned and operated. The changes become effective Nov. 7.

“USDA is continuing its commitment to new and existing family farmers and ranchers by expanding access to credit,” said Harden. “These new flexibilities, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, will help more people who are considering farming and ranching, or who want to strengthen their existing family operation.”

The microloan changes announced today will allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access an additional $15,000 in loans using a simplified application process with up to seven years to repay. These efforts are part of USDA’s continued commitment to small and midsized farming operations, and new and beginning farmers.

In addition to farm related experience, other types of skills may be considered to meet the direct farming experience required for farm loan eligibility such as operation or management of a non-farm business, leadership positions while serving in the military, or advanced education in an agricultural field. Also, individuals who own farmland under a different legal entity operating the farm now may be eligible for loans administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Producers will have an opportunity to share suggestions on the microloan process, and the definitions of farming experience and business structures through Dec. 8, 2014, the public open comment period.

FSA is also publishing a Federal Register notice to solicit ideas from the public for pilot projects to help increase the efficiency and effectiveness of farm loan programs. Comments and ideas regarding potential pilot projects will be accepted through Nov. 7, 2014.

Since 2010, USDA has made a record amount of farm loans through FSA — more than 165,000 loans totaling nearly $23 billion. More than 50 percent of USDA’s farm loans now go to beginning farmers. In addition, USDA has increased its lending to socially-disadvantaged producers by nearly 50 percent since 2010.

These programs were made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.


USDA: Iowa corn harvest 3 weeks behind schedule, latest soybean harvest in three decades

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The latest crop conditions report, released Monday by the USDA, shows only five-percent of Iowa’s corn has been harvested. That’s about three weeks behind the normal schedule. Cool weather and abundant rain in some areas put Iowa’s corn maturity about six days behind the five-year average.

Many growers are like Winnebago County’s Wayne Johnson, who reports corn kernels are retaining 25-percent moisture — about 10-percent more than can be stored without spoiling. Johnson says when he does begin harvesting, maybe in a week to 10-days, the corn must be dried using L-P gas. That takes extra work and money.

“It puts high demands on driers and so, instead of just harvesting it and dumping it in a bin — which is a wonderful way to harvest — you need to get it into a wet holding, then transfer it to a drier, then transfer it out of the drier to its final storage,” Johnson says. “So it takes a lot of extra work when you have to dry and a lot of extra gas to dry.”

The USDA report places 76-percent of Iowa’s corn crop in good to excellent condition. Iowa’s soybean harvest, at nine-percent complete, is the lowest percentage harvested by this date in over 30 years. Seventy-four-percent of the state’s soybean crop is listed in good to excellent condition.

(Radio Iowa)

Riverton reopens after floodwaters recede

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has reopened the south entrance and boat ramp at the Riverton Wildlife Management Area in Fremont County, after floodwaters receded off Hwy. J46, west of the town of Riverton.

Much of the parking area at the boat ramp has a few inches of water on it, but it is still usable, said Matt Dollison, wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The water is currently about 2.5 feet above normal crest in the main area. The walk in area on the southwest side of the main Riverton WMA tract and the Jensen tract south of the town of Riverton were both unaffected by the flood waters and are only slightly above normal crest. The north portion of the access road to the main area still currently has water on it so it is closed at this time.

October 4th is the opening day of waterfowl season and Riverton is a heavily used waterfowl hunting area.

Trumpeter Swans will return to Cass County…but when?

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Conservation Board is asking you…”When do you think the first Trumpeter Swan will arrive at the Schildberg Quarry?” You can call in your prediction (by November 11th) to the Conservation Board at 712-769-2372, leave a message and return phone number if the staff are not available. swan

Duplicate dates will not be allowed. For example, if a caller predicts November 25th, no one else will be allowed to predict that arrival date. Call anytime until November 11th to make your prediction. One prediction per family, please. The sponsors of this contest will determine the official arrival of the swans. The winner will receive a Trumpeter Swan 8×10 print from the Cass County Conservation Board.

The contest is only for residents of Cass County.

Trumpeter Swans have visited the Schildberg Quarry for, at least, sixteen out of the last Seventeen winters. Arrival and departure dates of the swans have been as follows:
1997/1998 December 18 – January 2
1998/1999 Nothing on record
1999/2000 December 25 – February 15
2000/2001 November 23 – March 6
2001/2002 December 25 – February 24
2002/2003 November 23 – March 15
2003/2004 November 26 – March 21
2004/2005 November 25 – March 18
2005/2006 November 17 – March 5
2006/2007 October 30 – March 9
2007/2008 November 22- February 14
2008/2009 November 18- March 12
2009-2010 November 19 – January 5
2010-2011 November 5 – February 10
2011/2012 November 17 – February 21
2012/2013 November 24– March 4
2013/2014 November 12- April 7


Group wants investigation of Iowa rabbit deaths

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – An animal welfare group is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the death of four rabbits used for research at the University of Iowa. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports a USDA routine inspection report from August found four rabbits died in June during a study. The report says the animals died of unexpected study complications.

The USDA report says the researchers did provide care for the animals, but didn’t contact or consult with a veterinarian about their health. A University of Iowa spokesman says the school has addressed the USDA report internally. He says the university is committed to complying with regulations governing the care and use of animals in research.

Cass County Extension Report 10-01-2014

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

October 1st, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olson


Lake Manawa Park, Lake Renovation Meeting Oct. 14

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the public is invited to a discussion pertaining to the latest rendition of the Lake Manawa campground renovation project and lake restoration project. The event takes place 6 p.m. October 14th, at the Western Historic Trails Center, in Council Bluffs.

Wilson Island Rec. Area re-dedication set for Oct. 7th

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources says the Wilson Island State Recreation Area will be officially rededicated during a ceremony at 1 p.m., October 7th, at the large riverfront shelter. Speakers include DNR Director Chuck Gipp, State Parks chief Todd Coffelt, and the president of the Wilson Island friends group. The rededication is the culmination of a $2.5-$3 million cleanup and rebuild project that began after the area was damaged in the spring of 2011 by the flooding Missouri River.

Wilson Island’s initial reopening was delayed until Aug. 3 from its planned mid June reopening after a storm battered the area with four inches of rain, baseball sized hail and 80-90 mile per hour winds that knocked down trees and damaged park buildings.

The campground remodel includes eliminating the more flood prone sites and changing the first to flood electric sites to non electric. The number of electrical sites increased by 15 but the total number of campsites has been reduced by 10.

The new Wilson Island has 50 amp service electrical sites, a new shower house, two new dump stations, two new picnic shelters all at higher elevations, and a new park office.


Bluffs’ Bayliss Park recognized as 1 of 10 “Great Public Spaces” for 2014

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with  The American Planning Association (APA), Tuesday, announced that Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs, has earned the designation as one of the “10 Great Public Spaces” for 2014.   Each October during National Community Planning Month, APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary streets, neighborhoods and public spaces that add value to communities and foster economic growth and jobs.

Bayliss Park is the geographic and symbolic “town square” for the community. Using four corner entrances, Bayliss Park connects visitors with the surrounding commercial and residential areas of downtown as well as the bike trails that extend 40 miles throughout the community. The park also serves as the preferred site for many arts events, outdoor concert series, outdoor movies, weddings and major annual community events like “Celebrate CB,” and the “Winterfest” lighting display. Over the past 10 years, a citizen steering committee for Bayliss Park has raised nearly $750,000 with the help of over 1,500 community members. The monies will be directed to the park’s rehabilitation and renovation, including the creation of a master plan.

APA’s Great Streets, Great Neighborhoods and Great Public Spaces feature unique and authentic characteristics that have evolved from years of thoughtful and deliberate planning by residents, community leaders and planners. Since Great Places in America was launched in 2007, APA has designated 230 neighborhoods, streets and public spaces. Places are announced annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow.

New this year, APA is seeking input from the public for the “31st Great Place Designee.” Interested citizens can nominate their Great Place by commenting on APA’s Facebook page or via Twitter using hashtag #mygreatplace.  The “31st Great Place Designee” will be announced on Friday, October 31, 2014.

Invasive cucumber plant leaves some Iowa landowners in a pickle


September 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Along with Iowa’s more traditional crops, two species of cucumber vines are having a bumper year. It’s not an edible kind of cucumber, but a pest that can choke out all sorts of plants, including young stands of trees. Iowa State University agronomy professor Bob Hartzler says the cucumber culprits are the wild and the burr varieties.

“There is more of it this year,” Hartzler says. “Both species start relatively late compared to some of our other weeds. In many years, when it turns dry in the summer, because of the late start, they can’t compete with the already-established vegetation. This year, with moisture throughout the growing season, it’s allowed them to thrive.” It’s especially noticeable in the trees this year.

Hartzler says the light green vines will grow up to 30 feet long and coil around anything they touch. He advises against using chemicals to control the weeds. “They grow in areas where it’s hard to use herbicides, simply because if they are growing up on a tree, there’s not a selective chemical that will kill the cucumber species without damaging the tree,” Hartzler says. “When you have a big problem, usually it’s a relatively small number of plants.”

Because they’re an annual, he says if you clip them off at the base, they aren’t going to regrow from that root. The seeds falling from the plant will likely grow again next year, so he says it’s best to pull the seedlings as soon as possible in the spring. Hartzler says they’re very aggressive and they’re native to Iowa so they’re not considered invasive, but he says they can be a nuisance.

(Radio Iowa)