KJAN Ag/Outdoor

GMO labeling supporters fined $320K over campaign disclosure


November 22nd, 2016 by Ric Hanson

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – An Iowa-based organization that supported a Washington state ballot measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods in 2013 has been fined nearly $320,000 over campaign finance violations. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor issued the fine Monday against Food Democracy Action. The group must also pay the state’s legal fees and trial costs.

Earlier this month, another Thurston County judge ordered the initiative’s opponents, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, to pay $18 million in civil fines for concealing the true sources of $11 million in contributions received from some of the nation’s biggest food and beverage companies.

Ferguson said Food Democracy Action collected almost $300,000 from its supporters and transferred $200,000 of that to support Initiative 522, but didn’t register its political action committee or identify its 3,100 donors until after the election. The initiative failed.

The swans have arrived. We have a winner!

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The sponsors of the Cass County Conservation Board’s Trumpeter Swan arrival contest have determined the official arrival of the swans was November 19th.  There was on that day, four Trumpeter Swans at the Schildberg Recreation Area. The birds stayed more than twenty-four hours. Therefor, the winner is Jane Kite.

She will receive a Trumpeter Swan 8×10 print from the Cass County Conservation Board. The school contest was won by Mrs. Haynes’s three year old Morning Preschool at Jack and Jill Preschool! The students will receive a trumpeter swan prize and Mrs. Haynes will receive a trumpeter swan t-shirt! Cass County Conservation thanks to all who participated!

Shelby County Fire Danger continues to be “Moderate”

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County “Fire Danger” index continues in the “Moderate” category, this week. Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says the participation they are receiving from the public, in calling-in and reporting their planned burns, is very valuable. It reduces the unneeded emergency responses, allows for local chiefs to be more aware of activities in their area. The “Moderate” rating will continue until at least Monday, Nov. 28th.

Ag Outlook meeting set for Dec. 15th in Page County

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Page County Extension service report they will be hosting an Agricultural Outlook Meeting on December 15th from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Wibholm Hall in Clarinda. The address is 200 S. 6 St. The program is designed to provide participants a concise evaluation of crop, livestock, and land market conditions.

Presenters at the Agricultural Outlook Meeting are knowledgeable and experienced Iowa State University (ISU) Extension specialists. They will discuss expected crop and livestock income potential, as well as review elements that determined land values in 2016 and may affect the direction in 2017.ISU Extension

Wendong Zhang, ISU Extension Economist, will explain impacts of Chinese production, supply, and demand on U.S. corn, soybean, beef, and pork prices. On December 13, he will share the results of the 2016 Iowa Farmland Value Survey. Two days later in Clarinda, Zhang will identify critical factors that influence land value trends in southwest Iowa.

In light of the recent harvest, Chad Hart, ISU Grain Marketing Specialist, will focus on marketing tools that make sense for 2016 and 2017. He will help participants understand price projections using current market information and point to issues that could cause significant changes in 2017 prices.

Lee Schulz, ISU Livestock Marketing Specialist, will assess the strength of the cattle cycle and where producers are in that cycle. He will also demonstrate decision tools, e.g. Raising versus Buying Heifers for Beef Cow Replacement, so producers can determine which option is most practical and profitable for their operation.

Registration is $20 and includes refreshments and educational materials. For more information about the Agricultural Outlook Meeting and to register, call Page County Extension at 712-542-5171. Registration is appreciated by December 13th.

Economic downturn is hitting all farmers: Corn, soybeans, cattle, hogs

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 21st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

An ag industry analyst says the economic downturn is hitting all sectors of agriculture and virtually all Iowa farmers are feeling the brunt. Dave Miller, director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau, says every commodity is being impacted. “Corn prices are down more than half from where they peaked a couple of years ago,” Miller says. “Soybeans are down about 60%, hogs are down 45% from two years ago, cattle are down 35% this year. It’s across the board with all of the major commodities we produce here in Iowa.”

Miller says part of the reason for the economic drop is tied to large crops globally. “We really have had very few production problems for the last four years across the world,” Miller says. “That is leading to good growth in consumption but it’s continuing to build stocks as the production has continued to outpace production and that’s putting pressure on prices.”

Miller says it’s an unfortunate reality but the situation won’t likely improve until there’s some monumental natural disaster. “There is no big new demand on the immediate horizon, such as we had with the development of the biofuels industry a decade ago,” Miller says. “Coming out of this is probably going to happen because of weather problems someplace significant around the world.”

Miller says you don’t often get five years in a row without inclement weather impacting agriculture.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks and Recreation Board to meet Monday

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 19th, 2016 by Chris Parks

The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Board is set to meet on Monday, November 21st at 5:15pm in the Council Chambers at City Hall. A number of updates will be given and discussed on numerous ongoing projects.

The Board plans to discuss the Sunnyside Pool Steering Committee, Schildberg Lake 2 Trail Project, Trevor Frederickson Field Renovation Update, Enhance Iowa Application Update, and Schildberg Recreation Area Campground update.  Discussion will also take place in regards to signage update as part of a beautification plan. They will also discuss the Sunnyside Basketball Court and Ice Rink Proposal and consider a request for safety storage cabinets.

Director Seth Staashelm will also provide a report that includes information on the Iowa Parks and Recreation Conference, Summer Programs report, and an update on Little League Improvements.  Staashelm will also discuss seasonal employees being laid off for the winter and talk about winter preparations. The Sunnyside Park restrooms have been closed for the season but the streets will remain open weather permitting.

IUB gets update and hears complaints on the Bakken pipeline

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Utilities Board heard an update on the progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the state and complaints from those who oppose it at their meeting Thursday. I-U-B attorney David Lynch gave the latest progress report from the company. “It indicates that 99 percent of the pipeline in Iowa has been lowered into the trench — and 96 percent of that trench has been backfilled. Only Buena Vista and Cherokee Counties are not yet complete to that stage,” Lynch says.

Work is more than halfway done in finishing up construction. “The report also indicates that 52 percent of the clean up and land restoration has been complete, while 61 percent of the pipeline in Iowa…has been hydrostatically tested,” according to Lynch.

Lynch told the three board members information from the board has been filed in the lawsuit against the pipeline. He says those who filed the lawsuit have until next Monday November 21st to file their reply briefs, and the oral arguments before the district court at still set for December 15th. He says they received three more complaints about the pipeline since the last meeting. “This gives us a total of 23 inquiries or complaints that have been filed since the first one on March 31st 2016. Fifteen of those 23 have been closed and eight of them are still in process. Most of those are in a state of a proposed resolution being drafted,” Lynch says.

The board heard from two representatives of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Mark Edwards talked about concerns that the pipeline workers did not drain water away from the areas where they worked. He told the board it was difficult to get complaints addressed and says the county board of supervisors did not want to take action because they were afraid of being sued. “I could go on with further examples of going down this rabbit hole of this public plunder for private gain. But it has been clear from the beginning that this is a rigged game,” according to Edwards. “Three politically appointed people have been given the power to risk the public waters, land and navigate private landowners’s rights. These proceedings have been quite the education and clearly illustrate we have little hope in our government to protect our rights and our land and our water.”

Carolyn Raffensburger also spoke about what she says are violations by the construction company, including continuing construction on land that was inundated with water. “What we have seen is that they have violated the largest commitments that they made and down to the smallest ones,” Raffesnburger says. “What we now know is that this is the rule of money rather than the rule of law. If there is not monitoring and no enforcement of your regulation — of the rules that you put in place — then it has no meaning whatsoever.”

Raffensburger made another plea for the construction to stop. “What we’re asking you today is to put on hold the rest of the construction. They are not done with construction in two counties. They have not complete the boring under the Des Moines River. That is not complete. We ask you put that on hold, that you stop construction until your rules have been followed,” Raffensburger says.

The I-U-B also heard from people about the pipeline during their public comment period. They listened for around 30 minutes to comments of those who are opposed to the pipeline. The board did not give any response to the comments.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa Policy Project report: voluntary approach to farm chemical management not working

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 18th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Authors of a new report from an eastern Iowa think tank say the voluntary approach to reducing farm chemical run-off isn’t working. David Osterberg is with the Iowa Policy Project, a “progressive” non-profit research group based in Iowa City. “When we look at the status of water quality in the Mississippi River and also within the state, we just can’t find much improvement there,” Osterberg says.

Osterberg says billions of state and federal money has financed conservation measures in farm fields, but the so-called “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico “is as big as it’s ever been.” “All the data we find does not show that we’re making real progress,” Osterberg says.

Sara Conrad, the co-author of the Iowa Policy Project report, says there are “a lot of great farmers in Iowa,” but there’s no a lot of improvement in water quality. “We have to understand that maybe just instituting simple voluntary measures may not be our final solution,” Conrad says.

Conrad’s report concludes Iowa farmers are spending less than one-dollar per acre on conservation measures. Osterberg, the co-founder of the Iowa Policy Project, is also a former state legislator. He suggests current legislators should raise taxes on farm chemicals to get more money for on-the-farm projects to reduce run-off.

Supporters of the voluntary approach to farm chemical management say more Iowa farmers are embracing the state’s “Nutrient Reduction Strategy” and government regulations on farm chemical applications wouldn’t fully take into account the characteristics of each acre of Iowa farmland.

(Radio Iowa)

Federal rules aim to bring marketplace protections for farmers


November 16th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Proposed federal regulations aim to level the playing field for farmers and ranchers in dealing with big corporations. John Crabtree, media director at the Center for Rural Affairs, says the U-S-D-A’s Farmer Fair Practice Rules are designed to improve marketplace conditions for producers in Iowa and nationwide.

“They’re to provide marketplace protections for farmers and ranchers that raise poultry and livestock,” Crabtree says. “They’re to shield farmers and ranchers who raise poultry and hogs on contract from some of the abuses in the system that have been prevalent on the part of meatpackers and poultry processors.”

He says the proposed rules would help to create a transparent marketplace. “Livestock markets are not fundamentally fair and competitive places,” Crabtree says. “Farmers and ranchers who raise poultry and hogs on contract get abused by very large processors. They don’t get treated with a fair hand.”

The U-S-D-A recently submitted the rules to the Office of Management and Budget in a move hailed by many ag organizations, including the National Farmers Union and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Crabtree says, “They’ve said for many years we should have more fairness, more competition, more equity in the marketplace so great big meatpacking corporations can’t just knock around farmers and ranchers because they’re smaller.”

Opponents of the rules include the North American Meat Institute and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. They claim the proposal would raise costs for producers and for consumers. The U-S-D-A already reviewed more than 60-thousand comments as it considered the potential economic impact of the rules.

(Radio Iowa)

Hunter compliance slipping on reported deer harvest requirement

Ag/Outdoor, Sports

November 16th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Hunters play a large role in managing Iowa’s world class deer herd by working with landowners and neighbors to reduce doe numbers, providing tissue samples to monitor for chronic wasting disease and by reporting successful hunts to the harvest reporting system. Officials with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources say the reported harvest is an important piece of information used when wildlife experts discuss possible changes to seasons, antlerless quotas, or other potential regulation changes.

But each year, more and more hunters are skipping this step. Presently, one out of five successful hunters is not reporting their harvest. “Our officers are conducting spot checks and have been writing more failure to report tickets,” said Chris Ensminger, wildlife research supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Harvest numbers are an important piece of information used in our models for deer populations around the state. If harvest is higher than is what has been reported, the proposed management strategies won’t accurately reflect what is on the ground. It’s the local hunters who get short changed in the end.”

Reporting the harvest only takes a few minutes. Hunters must report their harvest to the DNR by midnight of the day after it is killed, or before taking it to a locker or taxidermist, or before processing it for consumption, or before transporting it out-of-state, whichever occurs first. The hunter whose name is on the transportation tag is responsible for making the report.

If no animal is harvested, no report is necessary.