Information from the latest survey by the Iowa State University Extension department shows most farmland remains in the hands of “locals” when it’s sold. Economist Wendong Zhang conducts the annual survey. “We find that 72 percent of the buyers are existing local farmers and another two percent are existing or relocating farmers. Investors account for roughly 20 percent, new farmers are only three percent,” Zhang says.
He says the land generally stays with families until someone decides that no longer want to farm. “Estate sales account for over half of the land sold,” Zhang says, “and retired farmers account for another 23 percent,” Zhang says. He says there are few young people who own farmland. “Land owners 65 or above own half of Iowa’s land. Landowners 75 and above own one third,” Zhang says.
While the latest survey showed the third straight drop in land prices, Zhang says it is still hard for new farmers to find the resources to get into farming. “This is a still a very capital intensive industry that is a barrier for new farmers to enter,” Zhang says.
He says there are some farm programs now available to try and help young people get into farming. Zhang isn’t expecting a lot of big changes though in the next several years in the ownership of Iowa farmland.
Securing long-term funding for water quality programs remains a high priority for Iowa farm groups, but in light of the state’s nearly 100 million dollar budget shortfall, that task may be a bit more challenging. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill says – for now – his organization is not promoting any specific solutions to water funding. “We’re leaving it open to our legislative leaders to find a way, a pathway, to add this long-term, dedicated funding stream that will provide us the confidence we can invest and have a commitment from the state,” Hill says.
The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is also taking a more general approach, according to I-S-A president Roland Schnell of Newton. “We came out last year in support of the governor’s plan, and we’ve been supportive of the ‘I WILL’ three-eighth of a cent plan,” Schnell says. “But we’re really not nailing down anything specific, because we want to make sure the people understand that we’re supportive of anything that will provide us with long-term funding.”
Schnell says everything that happens in the 2017 Iowa legislature will take place with state budget constraints as the backdrop.
(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)
DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) – Iowa officials say this year’s deer harvest is slightly down this year with a little more than two weeks left in the season. Iowa’s second shotgun season ended last Sunday. Hunters have until midnight Monday to report their harvests. Antlerless deer only may be harvested from now until Jan. 2nd.
Between both shotgun seasons, hunters reported 5 percent fewer deer than last year’s seasons. Andrew Norton of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says hunters purchased 2,118 fewer licenses, or tags, for the shotgun seasons this year compared to last year.
In total, hunters in Iowa have harvested 87,722 deer this year, which is about 4 percent lower than last year’s count at this time. Hunters harvested 105,401 deer through all of last year’s seasons.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of hogs and pigs on Iowa farms has reached a new record high. As of Dec. 1 Iowa had 22.4 million hogs and pigs, the largest inventory ever reported. That is up 1 percent from the previous quarter and 7 percent higher than the same date a year ago.
Iowa is the nation’s leading hog producer by far. North Carolina had 9.3 million head, Minnesota was at 8.3 million and Illinois had 5.1 million as of Dec. 1. The national inventory was 71.5 million, 4 percent higher than a year ago.
Many ethanol industry officials are concerned that President-elect Donald Trump has selected people who have strong ties to “Big Oil” to fill key administration posts. Those include former Texas Governor Rick Perry for energy secretary, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator, and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. But, Renewable Fuels Association president and CEO Bob Dinneen says he’s not overly concerned. He says all that really matters is who is in charge.
“While these people may not be strong ethanol advocates themselves, it is not the Scott Pruitt administration. It is not the Rick Perry administration. It is not even the Rex Tillerson administration. It is the Donald J. Trump presidency,” Dinneen says. Iowa is the nation’s top producer of ethanol. Dinneen is confident the Trump administration will be pro-ethanol.
“He wants to see ethanol being used. He sees renewable fuels as a part of our nation’s energy future. It’s going to be Scott Pruitt’s responsibility to implement Donald Trump’s agenda,” Dinneen says.
Earlier this month, Governor Terry Branstad also expressed confidence the new Trump administration will be pro-ethanol. Branstad said while he’s “concerned” about the fact Pruitt is from an oil-producing state, the governor was “reassured” about the appointment in a meeting with Trump. “First thing Trump told me is, ‘don’t worry about (Pruitt), he’s going to be for ethanol,'” Branstad said.
(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)
The November election gave Republicans control of both houses of the Iowa Legislature beginning in 2017 as well as the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years. Iowa Farmers Union President Jana Linderman says having the G-O-P control the debate agenda in the Iowa House and Senate may create some challenges for her group and its policies.
“When one party controls both those chambers, there tends to be less leverage to get things done,” Linderman says. “I’m looking particularly at our agenda around local foods and pesticide drift, protecting some of our horticulture farmers, our organic farmers and others that are interested in those issues. Those might tend to be less popular.”
Linderman says the farmers union got backing on water quality improvement efforts from legislators in both chambers last session. “Water quality, I’m hopeful there’s enough bipartisan support for moving forward, that there will continue to be at least a good discussion and good energy behind getting something done this session,” she says. “That remains to be seen but I’m hopeful there will still be lots of opportunity for engagement on that set of issues.”
Linderman says her group can work with either party on important agricultural issues as she says the farmers union has always been a non-partisan organization. “We’re typically identified as being on the progressive side of a lot of policies but, in fact, our members write our policies and what’s most important to us is finding elected officials who are willing to support us on specific issues,” Linderman says. “Really, I prefer working with people on both sides of the aisle because you get more done that way.”
Besides gearing up to work with state lawmakers on ag issues, Linderman says her group is getting ready for its state convention in the next couple of weeks and will be talking about the need to get going on a new farm bill at the national level.
Cold temperatures have frozen over most of the state’s lakes and ponds — setting off the ice fishing season. Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief, Joe Larschied, says you should be able to ice fish in most areas of the state. He says there are still some lakes in southeast Iowa that haven’t fully frozen, but most of the lakes and impoundments have five to six inches of ice on them.
The forecast is calling for the temperatures to rise into the 40s in some areas of the state, but Larschied says that won’t melt everything away. “We’re still going to be making ice at night and we are going to be in the 30s and maybe 40s for a couple of days. For a short periods of time they’re not going to be melting a lot of ice. When you have good, hard, clear ice it takes a lot of warming days to really whittle that down,” Larschied says. “I’m going to predict that we are going to be making ice instead of losing ice.”
But Larschied isn’t giving a guarantee that all the ice will be good. “We can never say it is 100 percent safe to go ice fishing — because the conditions can vary in the lake or impoundment,” Larschied says. “But generally, four inches of hard, clear ice is safe to fish on for foot traffic. Anything of six inches and above is safe for A-T-Vs. And over eight to ten inches is safe if you want to drive larger vehicles on the ice.”
He says there are a couple of warning signs that the ice may not be safe. “If the ice looks dark, there’s nobody fishing it, be very careful,” Larschied says. He says you should punch plenty of holes in the ice to test its thickness. And always take a friend with you so you have help if you get into trouble on the ice.
He says bring these safety items along in the bucket: ice picks, about 50 feet of rope and a throwable floatation seat cushion for use in case of rescue.
With winter just getting underway today (Wednesday), we’re a long way from the spring run-off season, but forecasters are trying to look ahead and give Iowa farmers a chance to plan. Doug Kluck, the central region climate service director at the National Weather Service, says the first indications show run-off into the Missouri River basin should -not- be an issue next spring.
Kluck says, “If the forecasts hold true in terms of greater-than-normal precipitation and below-normal temperatures in the upper basin, if those come true — and they’re only slight probabilities pointing in that direction — I would say the run-off season should be relatively good.”
He notes that upper basin is the far upper basin, meaning, Montana and Wyoming. Kluck says mountain snowpack is currently behind normal. “As of right now, we’re a little bit behind the curve in the upper portions of the Missouri and the Platte River basin,” Kluck says. “It’s really tough to say. We’re not very far into the snow accumulation season, especially in the mountains. That can last into May in some places, so there’s a lot of season to go at this point.”
The U-S Army Corps of Engineers says the six main stem reservoirs of the Missouri River basin are expected to have the full 16-point-three million acre feet of flood storage available by spring.