DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s fur trapping season will begin Saturday, and the Department of Natural Resources says trappers should have good luck with strong populations of most species. The DNR says fur harvesters should find plenty of raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, river otters and mink. Furbearer biologist Vince Evelsizer says only muskrats and gray fox will be scarce.
The furbearer season will end for most species on Jan. 31. The DNR says there has been an increase in the number of Iowa trappers in each of the past three years and the number will likely top 19,000 this season.
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – The Army Corps of Engineers says it expects higher-than-usual runoff in the Missouri River basin next year, but the system of dams along the river will still have minimum flows to recover from drought last year.
The Capital Journal reports that the corps says wet soil conditions from abnormally high precipitation in the upper basin this fall are expected to cause monthly runoff records for the Oahe and Fort Randall areas this October. Total runoff for this year above Sioux City, Iowa, is expected to rank among the top five wettest years.
But despite the wet conditions, reservoirs still are below desired levels due to the 2012 drought, and the system is still expected to support less than full-service navigation downstream next year.
EARLHAM, Iowa (AP) — More than a dozen farmers worked with six combines to harvest a crop near the central Iowa community of Earlham, a little more than a month after the owner died of cancer. Dave Boyle, of Earlham, told KCCI-TV, “That’s what neighbors are here for.” The farmers decided to help out after 64-year-old Dennis Scar died of lung cancer on Sept. 25.
The harvest normally would have taken days to complete, but the volunteers finished it in about three hours, Monday. Scar’s daughter-in-law, Nikki Scar, says the sight of the machinery pulling in brought her to tears. She says, “We’re just very blessed to have family and friends and live in a small town I guess.”
The corn and soybean harvest moved ahead quickly in the last week. The latest U-S-D-A report shows 20-percent of the corn crop was harvested last week and 17 percent of the soybeans. That puts the bean harvest two days ahead of normal — marking the first time all season soybean progress was ahead of the five-year average.
Pam Johnson farms with her husband in north central Iowa ’s Floyd County. She says she’s thankful that the weather has been favorable at the end of the season after the way it started. The spring was cold and wet spring — leading to a very small planting window — and to get the corn in Johnson says they planted both night and day for three days and the beans didn’t go in until June. “It’s been a struggle all the way along, and then of course, mother nature shut the rain off in August,” Johnson says. But Johnson says they’re now really pleased that they’ve had a long growing season. “We were afraid of all the things that could happen, we would have an early frost and we have not, so the weather has been good to us at the back end of the growing season and we’re pleasantly surprised by the yields that are out there despite the weather,” according to Johnson.
Fifty-five percent of the corn has now been harvested, which is five percentage points behind normal. Moisture content of all corn in the field was estimated at 21 percent while moisture content of corn harvested was 19 percent. The soybean harvest is now 87-percent complete.
Ending a tax break on the diesel fuel farmers and construction companies use in off-road vehicles is among the ideas the Iowa D-O-T’s director has developed for increasing the state budget for road construction and maintenance. Governor Terry Branstad says some of the options are “outside the box.” “They’re different and we would expect that some of them would be somewhat controversial,” Branstad says. “We are saying, ‘Let’s see how the public feels about it.'” However, the Iowa D-O-T’s director isn’t releasing his list to the public, but instead sharing it first with legislators and interest groups, like the highway construction industry.
“I think this is a good process and I’ve indicated I’m not endorsing any of these options, but my hope is we can look at all these different options and alternatives and see if a consensus can be built that would eventually gain bipartisan support in the legislature, both the House and the Senate, to address the issue of funding fot the Road Use Tax Fund.” Diesel fuel sold with a red dye is to be used in off-road vehicles like tractors and excavators. It is not subject to state taxes, an estimated 38-million dollar annual tax break for farmers and the construction industry.
The D-O-T director’s list suggests that money could be placed in a new account to finance road projects in rural areas of the state. The only other idea on the D-O-T’s list that would bring in more tax money would be increasing the state sales tax on vehicle purchases — meaning car and truck buyers would pay 60-million more dollars in registration fees.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) Republican Congressman Steve King and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin will meet for the first time with the 38 other members of a House-Senate “conference committee” appointed to come up with a Farm Bill compromise. “I’m glad that we have two Iowans that are conferees,” King says. “We are now and have been for some weeks working to line up those issues that we disagree between the House and the Senate and line them up in order of difficulty.” According to King, the dispute over federal funding for “food stamps” is the most difficult to resolve.
House Republicans have voted to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 40 billion. The bipartisan Farm Bill that cleared the Democratically-led Senate in June called for four billion in cuts to the food stamp program — 10 times less. King has asked House Republicans leaders to present him some “creative ideas” for bridging that 36-billion dollar divide. “I don’t want to tip any hand on it. I chair the subcommittee that deals with nutrition and so what I say — it might affect the negotiations,” King says. “But I want to get to the end of this thing and I want a bill on the president’s desk I said before the snow flies. I know in part of Iowa I’m already too late on that, but we’re going to try to get this done and I think we get it done by the end of the year.”
There are a variety of other proposals that are unresolved as well, like a so-called “payment cap” that bars farmers with an adjusted gross income above 750-thousand dollars from getting federal subsidies to buy crop insurance. King is urging other members of the conference committee to negotiate the details in private rather than in public. “Let’s sit down and see if we figure out how we can agree before any of us take such a public position that we can’t compromise or back up from it,” King says.
If the Farm Bill doesn’t pass congress by January 1st, farm policies will revert to the 1949 Farm Bill and the first impact consumers would see would be a dramatic increase in milk prices. King made his comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad has launched a new state website that he says will help encourage efforts to reduce water pollution in Iowa. Branstad announced the website Monday. He says it will provide information to rural and urban residents as part of a wide-ranging approach to enhancing water quality in the state.
Iowa recently came to a deal with federal authorities to inspect more livestock farms and strictly enforce penalties when manure leaks into rivers or streams. That came after a long dispute over enforcing the U.S. Clean Water Act. Environmental groups note that 479 lakes, rivers and streams in the state are listed as impaired by the EPA. A wet spring this year caused some rivers in central Iowa to record the highest nitrate levels ever.
The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency has updated the fire danger warning signs in the county. The fire danger signs remain in the “Moderate” category, for the third straight week. Bob Seivert, Emergency Management Coordinator, said the harvest is moving nicely and rain is in the forecast later in the week. If you are planning a burn, contact your local fire chief before igniting. The Shelby County EMA will update the situation again on Thursday.