DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A series of online seminars aimed at helping farmers learn about such topics as how to insure an apple orchard, marketing and distributing local food, and the profit potential of grass-based livestock will be held through December. Practical Farmers of Iowa has set a schedule for a series of seminars this fall. The interactive webinars are Tuesday evenings from Nov. 5 through Dec. 10, except for Thanksgiving week.
Anyone is invited to listen in by signing in as a guest at www.practicalfarmers.org/farminar. Funds for the webinars have come from more than 200 individual donors and corporate sponsors including John Deere and Farm Credit Services of America.
Most presenters are farmers and the events are set up for participants to ask questions in real time.
Sixteen Iowa agricultural cooperatives are among the nation’s 100 largest. According to the U.S.D.A., farmer-owned cooperatives set records in 2012 for sales, income and assets. Sales at farmer-owned co-ops in the U.S. were up more than eight percent and income was up nearly 13 percent. There are more than 22-hundred co-ops in the United States. Iowa’s highest ranking ag co-op is United Suppliers of Eldora. It ranked as the country’s eighth largest co-op in 2012.
The West Central Cooperative in Ralston made the largest jump on the “Top 100” list, going from 69th in 2011 to 41st in 2012.
Western Iowans will have a chance to shape the future of Iowa’s conservation and outdoor recreation when the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) assembly comes to the Council Bluffs Public Library on Oct. 29th. REAP is a program that provides grants for and encourages enhancing and protecting Iowa’s natural and cultural resources. Meetings are being held across the state.
The assembly will begin with an open house from 6 to 6:30 p.m., followed by the meeting from 6:30 to 8 p.m. where Iowans can to voice ideas for changes and modifications to REAP and its programs.
Participants at each assembly will elect five members to the REAP Congress that will meet at the State Capitol on Jan. 4th, to discuss conservation topics such as soil conservation, water quality and outdoor recreation.
Next year is the 25th anniversary of REAP, so the meetings will reflect on REAP’s accomplishments and look to the future. REAP received $16 million for fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013 to June 2014). In addition to projects that enhance and protect resources, funding also goes to enhance soil and water quality, historic preservation, roadside vegetation and several other programs that are beneficial to Iowa. REAP has funded projects in every county in Iowa.
Hunters heading to the field for the opening weekend of pheasant season are encouraged to review safe hunting practices before they head out. “Brushing up on safety should be part of every hunting plan,” said Megan Wisecup, with the Department of Natural Resources Hunter Education Program. “Go through the zone of fire with the hunting party, talk about avoiding target fixation and swinging on game.”
Wisecup said hunters should get reacquainted with the techniques used to hunt pheasants – be sure to walk in a straight line and know where members of the hunting party are at all times, especially in low visibility areas like terraces, tall switch grass and standing corn.
“Wear plenty of blaze orange especially on the upper one third of your body. We are encouraging hunters to wear more blaze orange than the minimum required. The goal is to be seen by other hunters,” Wisecup said. “The top pheasant hunting incidents all are related to not being seen. The shooter swings on a rooster, the victim is out of sight of the shooter or the rooster flew between the shooter and the victim.”
Wisecup said safety also extends to the canine companions. “Avoid low shots to prevent injuring your hunting dog,” she said. “The hunting plan and safety practices are all part of a responsible hunt. The goal at the end of the day is for everyone to return home safely.”
Tips for a Safe Hunt
Iowa pheasant hunters can expect to find the best bird numbers in northwest, north central and central Iowa during the open of the season this weekend. And while the number of birds in the field is well below peak years, good hunting opportunities still exist.Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says “Even with low counts some hunters will have excellent hunts and plenty of opportunities and others will be able to flush a bird or two and put one in the bag. The key is good habitat and good dogs.”
The latest crop harvest reports indicate nearly half of the corn remains in the field. As more corn is harvested, pheasants will be concentrated in available habitat. Areas with excellent winter cover like cattails or switch grass have the potential to hold some birds, and currently, the best cover is primarily on public land.
Bogenschutz said “Hunters looking for birds and are flexible should identify public land with good winter cover in north central, central or northwest Iowa. Those regions have the better pheasant numbers.” Hunters can use the DNR’s online hunter atlas to do some “online” scouting of these areas.
Also available is more than 7,500 acres of private land in 27 counties; to be utilized for public hunting through Iowa’s Hunting and Access Program (IHAP). A list of areas and maps is available at www.iowadnr.gov/ihap
Hunting pressure will be highest during the first two weekends of the season, and then around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Based on the results of Iowa’s upland game survey, hunters should expect to harvest 100,000 to 150,000 pheasants during the October 26-January 10 season.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers should begin getting payments soon for land set aside in the Conservation Reserve Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is sending out checks several weeks late because of the partial government shutdown. About 390,000 farms nationwide have enrolled land in the CRP program covering nearly 27 million acres.
In exchange for an annual rental payment farmers take environmentally sensitive land out of production and plant grass or trees on it to improve water quality, wildlife habitat and prevent erosion. Payments to corn and soybean farmers enrolled in the Average Crop Revenue Election program will begin going out Thursday. The USDA says 1.7 million farms are enrolled in the program, which provides farmers a revenue guarantee based on market prices and average yields for certain commodities.
CARTER LAKE, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa official says there’s no easy solution or quick fix to a persistent algae problem at a lake in western Iowa. Chris Larson with the state Department of Natural Resources told the Carter Lake City Council that unusual weather over the last three years have made it difficult to clean up Carter Lake.
Larson said routine maintenance from the city’s mechanical harvesters may be the best long-term solution for the lake. The Council Bluffs Nonpareil reports that DNR recommended the city begin using harvesters in mid-April or early May. Priority areas for algae removal will be discussed at a later date.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says 70 percent of soybeans and 35 percent of corn has been harvested in the state as favorable weather allowed farmers to getting into their fields. The state Agriculture Department says the corn harvest was 15 percentage points behind normal and the soybean harvest was 11 percentage points behind normal.
Pasture conditions also have improved, with 52 percent rated as fair, good or excellent. Statewide, the weather allowed fieldwork on 5.4 days last week. The state based its estimates off statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Is your farmstead pretty enough to be the next “Field of Dreams”? The state is launching an effort to get Iowans to show off properties they’d like to see featured on the silver screen, on T-V or as the backdrop for a catalog shoot. Jeff Morgan, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, explains the campaign. Morgan says, “What we’re looking for is for Iowans who have a home or a property that could be featured in a movie and also if they know of a scenic view or a vista that might be appropriate for a film production to go onto www.produceiowa.com and register and submit their information and photographs.”
It’s free to submit photos to the Media Production Directory, but he says the home or property does have to be within the state of Iowa. Morgan says, “This is actually to build an online media directory that can be available to production companies from California and all around the world 24 hours a day for them to see what Iowa has to offer in terms of site locations.”
It’s not just farmsteads, but any Iowa homes, unique buildings and even entire main streets or downtowns which could be featured. Morgan says, “We’re looking to convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, homeowners, location scouts who work in Iowa, people from all corners of the state to submit information and photographs.”
Some tips for submitting photos include: use a digital camera, each photo should be no larger than 1MB, title each photograph, 10 total images per property, include distinct features and use a wide-angle lens or landscape view. Besides site locations, Produce Iowa is taking submissions about Iowa’s media production workforce and support service companies. He encourages local talent, production crews and hospitality businesses like hotels, restaurants and caterers to register their services and round out the directory.