KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Trend in farmers buying farmland hasn’t changed

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa farmland values survey released last week by Iowa State University’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development showed the first drop in values since 1999. Retired I-S-U economics professor, Mike Duffy, says that drop broke the upward trend in prices, but another standard of Iowa farmland ownership didn’t change. “Basically we’ve saw a continuation of the trends we’ve seen, and that’s existing farmers are the primary purchasers,” Duffy says. Duffy says investing in Iowa farmland hasn’t pushed out gold or the stock market for those outside of farming hoping to make some money.

“We had seen in the early two-thousands investor interest rising relative to existing farmers, but since about 2004, 2005, we’ve seen the existing farmers being the primary ones in the market,” Duffy says. “So most of Iowa’s land is owned by someone actively farming it, or someone who has in the past.” Duffy says the sales data from farmland shows mostly transactions from “Iowa to Iowa.”

“You can have some outside investors that have Iowa holdings, but it’s not as much as you might see in some of the surrounding states,” Duffy explains. He says part of the reason land doesn’t replace other investments, is that it takes ongoing work to reap the rewards. “I think sometimes people want to use just short-run points of view on the land market. Land is a long-term investment, it’s an investment that people buy for a variety reasons, not just income,” Duffy says. “We’ve seen probably close a fifth of the land — 20 percent — is owned for sentimental reason.”

Duffy has tracked the farmland values for 28 years and says those who operated farms for their livelihood have had a lot to keep track of recently. “You know the last few years have probably been some of the most unusual where we saw the big run up in values, massive changes in corn prices, and it’s been an interesting time,” Duffy says.

Duffy started tracking land values as the state was coming out of the farm crisis and big drop in prices in the late 1980’s. He thinks this year’s drop in prices is a correction in values related to commodity prices falling, and doesn’t think values will continue to drop like they did back then. Duffy has retired from I-S-U and says this is likely his last year working on the farmland survey.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks & Rec. Director announces Asst. Director hiring

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department’s Board of Directors has hired an Assistant Parks and Recreation Dept. Director. Current Parks Director Roger Herring reports Seth Stasshelm was hired following interviews and background checks earlier this week on five finalists for the position. Staashelm is currently the Aquatics Director at the Nishna Valley YMCA, in Atlantic. He’s lived in the community since May, and joined the YMCA in July.

Staashelm is married. His wife teaches high school math in Atlantic. Staashelm has a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwest Missouri State University, with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management and Corporate Recreation Management. He also has a wide variety of experiences in the construction field, personal training, is a multi-sport athlete, certified pool operator, and is qualified in disaster clean-up following catastrophic weather events.  Staashelm will begin his duties as Assistant Director at around Feb. 1st, 2015, once he has completed his program duties at the Nishna Valley YMCA.

Parks Director Roger Herring, whose five-year contract with the Parks and Rec Dept. expires in May 2016, asked the Board in Sept. to begin the search for his replacement. Once Staashelm takes over the Operation duties as Herring’s Assistant, Herring will be able to concentrate more on the grant-application writing process.

Herring said the decision on who to hire was difficult, because there were 30 applications the selection committee had to whittle down to a handful of finalists. “The candidate pool,” he said “was wide and varied, but highly qualified.”  Stuart Dusenberry, Chairperson of the Atlantic Parks and Rec Board, says “We are confident Seth will continue the progressive goals established by the Park Board, Mayor Jones, and the Atlantic City Council.”

USDA Report 12-25-2014

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

December 25th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Max Dirks


Cass County Extension Report 12-24-2014

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

December 24th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olson


DNR checks manure spill in Greene County

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says investigated a manure spill about three miles southwest of Scranton in Greene County, Saturday afternoon. Liquid manure spilled after a tractor-tanker got too close to the road edge. The tanker overturned near the Hunter hog finishing facility about 8 a.m. Saturday. Driver and applicator Joanne Hunter estimated 2,000 gallons of manure ended up in the ditch near the top of a hill.

The Hunters quickly dammed the ditch on each side of the spill, checked for tile intakes, and contracted to have manure pumped up and soil in the ditch excavated and land applied. DNR specialist Dan Olson from the Atlantic field office checked the spill area. “The Hunters did a really good job on clean up,” he said. “First they were prepared in case a spill happened, and when one did occur they acted quickly to contain it and clean it up.”

No manure reached a water of the state. Manure spills must be reported to the DNR within six hours by calling the state 24-hour spill line at 515-281-8694 or by calling the DNR field office during office hours.

Farmland values drop nearly 9% in latest ISU survey

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa farmland values saw their biggest drop in almost three decades in the latest survey released by Iowa State University, Thursday. The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development is taking over the survey duties from retired economics professor Mike Duffy. But Duffy helped crunch the numbers this year. “What we saw was an eight-point-nine percent drop,” Duffy says. “When you look, the primary reasons the survey respondents gave for the drop were lower commodity prices.”Land2014_map1

The drop means an average value of acre of farmland in the state fell 779-dollars to seven-thousand-943 dollars. Duffy says it’s not surprising the value would drop given the drop in commodity prices and the impact seen in other areas of the economy. “You know if you use just the basic formula — land values to income divided by the interest rate — right now when the income drops, then we would expect to see the land values drop. And in fact, I think it’s probably a sign that the market is working when we do see responses like this,” Duffy says.

It is only the second year since 1999 that the survey has shown a decline in farmland values. The drop has some people asking if land prices will continue on the way down after hitting a peak in 2013, just like they peaked and dropped in the 1980’s. Duffy doesn’t see that comparison. “My personal feeling is that we went into the fall that we did in the early 80’s because we went on a speculative bubble,” Duffy says. “The increase that we’ve just experienced until this year, I think has been more income driven.” Even with the decrease, he says farmland values are more than double what they were 10 years ago, 81 percent higher than 2009 values, and 18 percent higher than 2011 values.  “Even though it’s not good news that it dropped, it is a response to the market. And my personal feeling is that it doesn’t say that we are going to see major drops now for the next several years,” according to Duffy. He believes the values have settled in to adjust to the economic situation.

“My guess, if we see corn end up in the three-50 to four-dollar range and beans in the 10-dollar range, which is kind of what it looks like now, we good expect to see these land values stabilizing, maybe a little more down, but stabilizing and kind of holding in there,” Duffy says. For the second year in a row, Scott County in eastern Iowa had the highest land values and Decatur County in south-central Iowa reported the lowest farmland values. Decatur County reported a value per acre of three-thousand-587 dollars ($3,587) or a drop of 41 dollars an acre from last year’s report. While Scott County reported a value of 11-thousand-618 dollars ($11,618) or a decline of about 795 dollars and acre, which was about 22 dollars more per acre than the statewide average. Southeast Iowa was the only crop reporting district in the state to show an overall increase in values.

“We had seven counties down in that area that reported an increase in value,” Duffy says. “Southeast had drought a couple of years ago, so they had not been increasing — think that is part of the reason. I think that they had record corn yields.” He also says increased livestock values caused more of a demand for pasture land in the southeast. Southeast Iowa reported land values were three-point-two percent (3.2) higher than last year. Keokuk County, located in that southeastern portion of the state, reported the largest percentage increase for any single county at two-point-four (2.4) percent. To find out more on the survey, go tohttp://www.card.iastate.edu/land-value/2014/


Omaha company proposes vegetable oil plant in Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 18th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) – An Omaha, Nebraska soybean processing company plans to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery in western Iowa. The Sioux City Journal reports that Ag Processing Inc. plans to build the refinery at its complex near Sergeant Bluff, creating at least 20 new jobs. The information comes from documents by Ag Processing seeking nearly $1 million in Iowa loans and tax breaks released by the state Wednesday.

The company’s complex in Woodbury County currently includes a soybean processing plant, biodiesel plant and grain storage facilities. The vegetable oil refinery proposed for the same 85-acre site would be designed for 30 rail tank cars per day. Estimated project costs include $2.5 million for site preparation, $14.5 million for construction and $71.5 million for new machinery and equipment..

DNR continues testing for CWD

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

December 17th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The shotgun deer season is well underway and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is again monitoring for signs of Chronic Wasting Disease in the animals taken by hunters. D-N-R wildlife research supervisor, Willy Suchy, says they’ve been testing for C-W-D since 2002. “We’ve had a couple of positives now, one in a wild herd and a couple in captive situations, so we are doing enhanced surveillance in those areas to see if there’s anything on the landscape that we need to look for,” Suchy says.

The main effort will concentrate on portions of northeast and eastern Iowa near Wisconsin and Illinois, south-central Iowa near Missouri, as well as in Pottawattamie, Cerro Gordo and Buchanan counties. The one positive in the wild population came in Allamakee County in 2013.  “The good news is that we’ve sampled up there for 12 years and this is the first positive. We’ve had over thousand samples within five miles of where this deer was detected, and when we look at the genetics — Iowa State examined it — and it looks likely, you can’t say 100 percent for sure, but it looks likely that it was a Wisconsin deer that actually emigrated into Iowa,” according to Suchy. While C-W-D is fatal to deer, Suchy says it is not a concern for hunters.

“If a deer tests positive, the C-D-C does encourage people to not eat those deer, but there is no proven health risk,” Suchy says. The C-W-D sampling involves removing and testing the brain stem and lymph nodes of the deer. Hunters willing to provide samples may contact a D-N-R regional office to arrange collection. For more information, check the Iowa D-N-R’s website at: www.iowadnr.gov.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County Extension Report 12-17-2014

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

December 17th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Kate Olson


“Abnormally dry” conditions return to NW Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

December 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The state entered winter with groundwater levels up and no drought conditions reported in the state, but that has changed a little in recent weeks. Tim Hall tracks the water conditions for the Department of Natural Resources and says drought conditions in the Dakotas and parts of Minnesota have crept into Iowa. “That’s just sort of snuck into the northwest corner of the state, it’s not a big deal right now, we just want folks who live in that part of the state to be aware of it, and we’ll just sort of keep an eye on it over the winter,” Hill says. The area has been rated “abnormally dry” which Hall says is the rated that brings the least concern for drought conditions. November saw more snowfall than normal, but Hall says that doesn’t help the dry conditions at this time of year.

“The frozen ground prevents a lot of general soaking in of rainfall, plus we’ve got to keep in mind that there’s often a ten to one ratio between the amount snow we get and the amount of moisture that is in that snow,” Hall says. “So, a ten-inch snowfall — which is a big deal in Iowa — could be as little as an inch of rain, which isn’t as big a deal.” Overall though, Hall says Iowa’s waterways are in good shape right now. He says the state has battled abnormally low stream flow levels over the past couple of years. “Generally in the winter stream flow levels are pretty low to being with, and over the last couple of years we have seen abnormally low stream flows when it’s normally low anyway. This year going into winter, we are actually in pretty good shape stream-flow wise,” Hall says. He says most of the state has normal stream flow and western Iowa has some above-normal stream flows.

“That indicates there’s an abundance of moisture in the system and that spells good news potentially for spring planting as there is enough moisture out there,” Halls says. “That’s a significant improvement over where we’ve been over the last couple of years.” One other things Hall has noticed about the water systems this winter is that we’ve seen some of the earliest lake ice on record for Iowa’s northern lakes. Big Spirit Lake froze November 16th and West Okoboji Lake was close to being completely frozen on December 1st.

“Generally the onset of ice on the lakes isn’t a huge impact on the hydrology,” according to Hall. He says it is kind of interesting for “weather junkies” to look at and see how the icing of the lakes compares to past years. Hall says the ice on the lakes can help prevent some evaporation, but overall it doesn’t have a major impact on the water situation. And he says the changing temperatures will make the ice conditions vary quite a bit. For more on of Iowa’s water resource trends, go to www.iowadnr.gov.

(Radio Iowa)