URBANDALE, Iowa – As the Iowa job market continues to bounce back slowly from the depths of the economic downturn, one industry that’s leading the way is clean energy. The state ranked fifth in the nation in the fourth quarter with 650 new jobs announced in such areas as wind energy, biofuels, and recycling. Among those hoping that trend will continue is Mark Schroder, who runs LED Source of Urbandale.
“We are a LED-lighting-retrofit company,” he said. “We do some new construction, but a majority of our business is retrofitting existing business owners. And we’re certainly trying to do our part to hire more people and do what we can to keep the economy in Iowa turning.” Schroder said some of his customers are also hiring more staff, thanks to the savings from moving to more-energy-efficient lighting.
The growth in clean energy jobs is not only helping economically, but is also promoted as providing environmental benefits like curbing climate change. That’s been helped in recent years in Iowa and across the country with the availability of certain tax credits, but Schroder noted that most of those now have been changed dramatically or eliminated altogether. “And in fact we’ve had a few customers tell us that they were going to put their projects on hold due to that particular situation, so we’d certainly like to see that legislation come back,” he said. “And it certainly would help not only our business, but many other businesses as well.”
Nationwide, nearly 80,000 clean-energy and clean-transportation jobs were announced in 2013, based on more than 260 projects tracked by the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).
Iowa clean energy jobs information is at CleanEnergyWorksForUs.org.
(Iowa News Service)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia today recommended that farmers and ranchers who plan to participate in FSA programs register in advance. Producers are encouraged to report farm records and business structure changes to a local FSA Service Center before April 15, 2014.
Enrollment for the disaster programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, including the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) will begin by April 15, 2014. “We expect significant interest in these programs,” said Garcia. “Early registration should help improve the sign-up process and allow us to expedite implementation of the programs. I strongly encourage producers to complete their paperwork ahead of time.”
Examples of updates or changes to report include:
• New producers or producers who have not reported farm records to FSA.
• Producers who have recently bought, sold or rented land. Those producers need to ensure that changes have been reported and properly recorded by local FSA county office personnel. Reports of purchased or sold property should include a copy of the land deed, and if land has been leased, then documentation should be provided that indicates the producer had/has control of the acreage.
• Producers that have changed business structures (e.g. formed a partnership or LLC) need to ensure that these relationships and shares are properly recorded with FSA. Even family farms that have records on file may want to ensure that this is recorded accurately as it may impact payment limits.
Farm records can be updated during business hours at FSA Service Centers that administer the county where the farm or ranch is located. Producers can contact their local FSA Service Center in advance to find out what paperwork they may need. In addition, bank account information should be supplied or updated if necessary to ensure that producers receive payments as quickly as possible through direct deposit.
While any producer may report farm records and business structure changes, it is especially important for producers who suffered livestock, livestock grazing, honeybee, farm-raised fish, or tree/vine losses for 2011, 2012, 2013 or 2014, and may be eligible for assistance through one of the four disaster programs.
For further information about our disaster programs and USDA’s Farm Bill implementation plan, visit FSA’s 2014 Farm Bill Web page. FSA Service Center locations can be found on the FSA website.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Researchers say bugs are developing resistance to the widely popular genetically engineered corn plants that make their own insecticide, so farmers may have to make changes. The Lincoln Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/1eC05SM ) that cases of rootworms eating roots of so-called Bt corn have been confirmed in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Iowa State University researchers say rootworms have developed resistance to two of the four genetic traits in corn plants that are engineered to kill rootworms. Iowa State professor Aaron Gassmann says the problem isn’t widespread yet, but farmers and seed companies should consider changing their approaches to pest control.
In areas where Bt corn has failed to control rootworms, farmers turned to insecticides. The USDA says 76 percent of all corn planted last year was Bt corn.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Agricultural interest in using unmanned drones to help monitor millions of acres of crops is growing. The Des Moines Register reports that supporters believe using drones on farms makes sense because the operations are generally large and in rural areas. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts that 80 percent of the commercial use of drones will eventually be in agriculture.
Drones with infrared cameras and other sensors can help identify insect problems and watering issues early. They can also help assess crop yields and locate missing cattle. Farmer Brent Johnson bought a drone last year to study how the topography of his 900-acre central Iowa farm affects yields. He says using the drone helps him decide whether to replant an area or avoid it in the future.
1232 PM CDT FRI MAR 21 2014
…RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CDT THIS EVENING FOR
WIND AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY FOR SOUTHEAST NEBRASKA AND
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN OMAHA/VALLEY HAS ISSUED A RED
FLAG WARNING FOR WIND AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…WHICH IS IN
EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CDT THIS EVENING.
* WINDS…NORTHWEST 20 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.
* RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AS LOW AS 15 TO 25 PERCENT.
* IMPACTS…VEGETATION IS VERY DRY ACROSS THE AREA. WITH LOW
RELATIVE HUMIDITY…GUSTY WINDS…AND DRY FUELS…FIRES CAN
IGNITE AND SPREAD QUICKLY.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW…OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF
STRONG WINDS…LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY…AND WARM TEMPERATURES CAN
CONTRIBUTE TO EXTREME FIRE BEHAVIOR.
While other counties in southwest Iowa have elected to issue a ban on open burning, Cass County will not being doing so at this time. The was the consensus of the fire chiefs who attended the Cass County Fireman’s Association meeting Thursday night, in Marne. Cass County Emergency Management Director Mike Kennon says a ban on open outdoor burning won’t be necessary if people use common sense. He says for the most parts area residents have acted responsibly, and if they continue to act responsibly, the County will refrain from issuing a burn ban.
Acting responsibly means planning ahead before you conduct any outdoor burning. Kennon says residents should check the weather forecast to make sure the winds won’t be strong, call your local fire chief to confirm the time and place of the intended burn. You also need to call the Cass County Communications Center at 243-2204 well ahead of time, so they know not to send out fire crews and equipment when they receive calls from the public fearing a fire is out of control.
Even though there is no burn ban currently in effect in Cass County, Kennon and the area Fire Chiefs are urging residents not to burn for the next couple of days because conditions are expected to be dry and windy. Once a fire is lit, according to Kennon, it needs to be attended to and monitored even when you think it has been extinguished.
He said some of the larger brush piles can burn for days, so to can’t just walk away. They need to be monitored closely.
A large hog barn was destroyed by fire early this (Friday) morning in northwest Iowa’s Plymouth County, wiping out a herd of 350 pigs.
The blaze hit Jordan Dirksen’s two-story barn near Oyens) about 2 A-M. Oyens Fire Chief Brian Juhl says as soon as fire crews got to the scene, they knew they had their hands full. “When we arrived, we had fire visibly showing and coming out of the second floor which was full of straw,” Chief Juhl says. “Also, when we opened it up, we had fire on the main floor.” The Le Mars fire department also responded.
Firefighters tried to save the 70-year-old barn, but Juhl says they soon learned their efforts were futile. “When we first got on scene, we were trying to see if we could knock it down quick but it didn’t take long for us to realize we’re not going to be able to knock it down with it being full of straw up in the loft,” he says. “We went on the defensive, trying to control how it burns.” The fire was kept from a propane tank and after about two hours, the barn collapsed. No human injuries are reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Clarinda Police Chief Keith Brothers says he’s been getting several inquiries from citizens about the Page County Burn Ban that was put into effect earlier this week. Brothers says the City of Clarinda’s Ordinance states that during a burn ban the only type of burning allowed is:
OUTDOOR COOKING FIRES. Outdoor Cooking fires (barbecue grills) burning common cooking fuels such as natural and/or LP gas or charcoal being use for the cooking of food for human consumption are permitted, but that open ground fire pits cannot be used. Any other type of open burning is strictly prohibited and absolutely no recreational fires are allowed.
In simple terms, you can can cook burgers, brats, steaks and hotdogs on the grill, but any other type of open burning remains illegal as long as the burn ban is in place. If you have any questions, please contact the Clarinda Police Department or Clarinda Fire Department.
A pair of national hunting organizations is announcing plans to hold their annual joint expo in Iowa next year. Des Moines is the 2015 host for the National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic. Rehan Nana is a spokesman for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Iowa has a great outdoor heritage and this is our third time we’re going to be in Iowa for National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic,” Nana says. “It’s the only city we’ve been in three times and we had such a great time the past two, we want to make it back for number three.”
It was a natural move to return to the Hawkeye State for the event, he says, as Iowa has more chapters of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever than any other state — 104 chapters — with some 20-thousand members. “If you’re a pheasant hunter, if you’re an outdoors person at all, this is the best show for you,” Nana says. “Really from wild game cooking to bird dogs to habitat conservation and habitat management, all things under the sun.” Last month, Milwaukee hosted this year’s show. Des Moines last hosted the show in 2010. At that event, U-S Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Conservation Reserve Program general signup #39. That C-R-P effort has served as one of the U-S-D-A’s most successful conservation programs.
Nana says a significant sum of money has been invested in wildlife habitat projects in Iowa through the years. “Since 1985, there’s been over $45-million spent in Iowa based on all of our chapters’ efforts for over 111,000 habitat projects. That’s more than 1.1-million acres for wildlife there.” The event is planned for Iowa’s capitol city February 20-22 of 2015. Learn more at the website: www.pheasantfest.org
Shelby County Emergency Management officials have lowered the county’s fire danger rating from High to “Moderate.” EMA Coordinator Bob Seivert says cooler temperatures, recent and expected moisture will provide a small window for this weekend.
If you have a pile of brush or waste to burn, please call the EMA at 755-2124 and contact your local Fire Chief, so that we are aware of the location and nature of the controlled burn. Please be aware that your city ordinances regarding burn times, and open burning, are all in effect.