KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Scarce cash in land of plenty: Farmers adjust to downturn

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

MAXWELL, Iowa (AP) – The men and women who are growing what’s expected to be the biggest corn crop the United States has ever seen won’t benefit from the milestone. Prices are so low that for the third consecutive year, most corn farmers will spend more than they earn. It’s a similar story for soybean producers.

That’s left farmers across the country cutting costs, dipping into savings or going further into debt to make it through the year. Federal crop insurance and government payments will offer some help, and most farmers have an off-the-farm job or a spouse who supplements the family’s income.

But the drop in farm profits raises questions about agriculture’s boom-and-bust cycles and why people adhere to what at times is seemingly not a sustainable business model.

Iowa Farm Bureau offers to pay for the defense of farmers, rural Iowans in the Des Moines Waterworks lawsuit

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) have offered to underwrite the legal costs for the defense of the drainage districts targeted in the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) lawsuit so the northwest Iowa drainage districts, farmers and rural citizens can focus on defending the lawsuit without the impossible task of covering the cost of a multi-million-dollar lawsuit.

The offer was extended to the supervisors in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties last week, since the supervisors act as trustees for the 10 drainage districts being targeted by DMWW’s lawsuit.  IFBF President Craig Hill says “Protecting farmers is really core to our mission at Farm Bureau. With one in five jobs directly tied to agriculture, rural Iowa has much at stake. If DMWW prevails in its lawsuit, it has the potential to adversely impact every Iowa farmer and farmers throughout the United States. We believe it’s essential for the future of Iowa agriculture and our rural communities for us to do what it takes to ensure the lawsuit is appropriately defended with adequate resources.”

A few months ago supervisors in the targeted counties ended their relationship with the Agricultural Legal Defense fund, which left drainage districts without sufficient resources to defend against the urban lawsuit. Drainage districts do not have ratepayers or general taxing authority with which to raise funds for these types of expenses.  To date, litigation costs for both sides combined have exceeded $2 million in the lawsuit.

The DMWW’s suit has garnered national attention, since it seeks to effectively change the Clean Water Act, forcing regulations and potential penalties on farmers; such action would put roadblocks on farmers’ efforts to continue trying new, innovative conservation practices to improve water quality.

The trial for the lawsuit is currently scheduled to be held in June of 2017.

Sen. Grassley wants to reform program for foreign investment in rural America

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is introducing legislation he says is designed to reform an economic development program which he describes as “out of control” with fraud and national security threats. The program, E-B-Five, was created in 1990 to prompt foreign investors into putting between 500-thousand and a million dollars into capital investment projects in rural America and in other job-starved areas.

Grassley says, “Many of the investments are going to projects in ritzy, well-to-do neighborhoods like those in Manhattan and Miami, instead of rural America and communities that need to boost employment and need help the most.”The program offers “green cards” to the foreign investors but over the decades, Grassley says significant problems have developed with the well-intended effort.

“The government has little ability to detect or prevent fraud,” Grassley says. “We don’t always know where the money for these projects is coming from and the government isn’t doing a good job of vetting the immigrant investors.” Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and says the E-B-Five program will expire at the end of this month and Congress has to decide whether to pass legislation to continue it or let it vanish.

Grassley says, “I introduced a bill with Senator Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the committee I chair, to put rural America and economically-distressed neighborhoods back on an equal footing with wealthy, urban neighborhoods when competing for investors.”

The legislation would also improve oversight and accountability, according to Grassley, while reducing scams and addressing national security concerns.

(Radio Iowa)

Local Rainfall Totals ending at 7:00 am on Tuesday, September 13

Ag/Outdoor, Weather

September 13th, 2016 by Jim Field

  • KJAN, Atlantic  .68″
  • 7 miles NNE of Atlantic  .6″
  • Massena  .51″
  • Elk Horn  1.01″
  • Avoca  .7″
  • Audubon  .3″
  • Neola  1.2″
  • Villisca  .85″
  • Woodbine  .18″
  • Clarinda  .76″
  • Glenwood  .46″
  • Shenandoah  1.56″
  • Hastings  1.12″
  • Randolph  1.79″
  • Denison  .34″
  • Carroll  .1″
  • Red Oak  .64″
  • Underwood  .38″
  • Sidney  1.81″
  • Guthrie Center  .01″

State Beef checkoff vote to begin next month

Ag/Outdoor

September 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa beef producers will soon get to vote on a proposal to institute a state beef checkoff program. Iowa Cattlemen’s Association communications director, Katie Olthoff, says they submitted the required paperwork for the referendum earlier this month. She says they needed to get 500 signatures from cattle producers and worked throughout the summer at various events and turned in more than 700 signatures.

The voting will begin next month. “Producers can request an absentee ballot if they would like starting in October. Then they can mail in those ballots any time throughout the month of November,” Olthoff says. “or if they prefer, producers can vote in person at their county extension offices on November 30th.”

The results of the vote would be known in mid-December. The Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has said they’ll be able to certify the vote on December 14th. “If it passes with a simple majority of 51 percent or more — collections will begin March 1st 2017. It will be a 50-cent per head state checkoff,” Olthoff explains.

She says the checkoff will be mandatory, but producers can request a refund. “We have really worked hard at the Cattleman’s Association to do our legwork and make sure that our producers have been able to give input into how the money would be spent,” according to Olthoff. “That includes a survey that we did last fall among our Cattlemen’s Association members. Eighty percent of the respondents were in support of a state beef checkoff and they outlined several uses for those funds.”

One use the survey supported is research. Olthoff says that is something that currently can’t be done with the federal checkoff, but they think it is important to help producers stay profitable into the future. Olthoff says the national fund has done a lot to promote the industry nationwide and this would be more state specific.

“Beef is What’s For Dinner is part the federal beef checkoff program. It’s been a great way to promote beef,” Olthoff says. “We want some more flexibility in our dollars and we want to enhance what the national programs are doing. That federal beef checkoff has been a-dollar-a-head since 1986. So adding an additional 50 cents at this point is something that several other states are doing. It’s something our Iowa cattle producers have been very interested in.”

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association says it represents nearly 10-thousand beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa’s beef industry.

(Radio Iowa)

EPA proposes deep cuts in farm use of herbicide atrazine

Ag/Outdoor

September 13th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says she’s worried about the negative impact the E-P-A’s proposed rule on the herbicide atrazine could have on farmers. The agency proposes drastically cutting the amount of the chemical farmers could apply to fields. Ernst says science supports the safe use of atrazine in controlling broadleaf weeds, especially in corn crops. “For over 50 years, it has been proven as a safe and effective way of managing our cropland,” she says. “Over 7,000 studies that prove it is a safe and effective tool to keep in our toolbox.”

Atrazine is one of the most widely used herbicides in the U-S, but it was banned in the European Union in 2004, when groundwater levels exceeded limits. If the E-P-A’s proposed use level becomes the standard, analysts say the herbicide could no longer be used effectively and it would essentially represent a ban on the use of atrazine. Ernst says Congress would oppose that move.

“We will continue to apply pressure to the EPA,” she says. “We can involve other organizations and get people to push those public comments back to the agency. If they go to far, we can look at how do we work around this legislatively.”

The deadline to submit comments to EPA is October 4th. Without atrazine, some estimate farm input costs could increase by 30-to-60 dollars per acre. Farmers would also lose a valuable tool for weed management and conservation.

(Radio Iowa)

Larger soybean, smaller corn harvest expected; still records

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has boosted the expected soybean crop to a new record. The agency’s monthly crop update, released Monday, says farmers are expected to produce 4.2 billion bushels of soybeans, an increase of 3 percent from last month’s estimate. It’s also a record for average bushels per acre at 50.6 and acres harvested at 83 million.

The estimated corn crop was reduced to 15.1 billion bushels as compared to last month’s estimate of 15.2 billion. But that still beats the previous high of 14.2 billion bushels in 2014. The huge harvest is still expected to suppress grain prices below farmers’ cost of production, causing most to lose money on corn and soybeans.

Group backs sales tax increase to fund water quality efforts

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A coalition of agriculture, business and conservation leaders say they support a plan to increase Iowa’s sales tax to raise money for water quality and other natural resources programs. The Des Moines Register reports members of Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Coalition on Monday proposed raising the sales tax by three-eighths of a cent. Organizers say they’ll push their plan at the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

The nearly two dozen members of the coalition include the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Greater Des Moines Partnership and Iowa Ducks Unlimited. The poor quality of Iowa’s waterways has been receiving more attention, especially following a lawsuit filed by Des Moines Water Works against three northwest Iowa counties accusing them of wrongly allowing runoff from farms.

Fire Danger updates to resume in Shelby County

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

September 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Shelby County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert today (Monday), said field and grassland Fire Danger updates will be provided on Monday’s and Thursday’s each week, through the harvest season. The purpose of the updates is to provide accurate data to Fire Chiefs, and the Public at large, regarding the current and expected Fire Danger for approximately 84 hours at a time.

Signs will be updated by 9-a.m. Monday and again by 9-a.m. Thursday, each week. Signs will also be placed in Shelby County communities that agree to change them on the days mentioned.  In rare events, such as vacations or during incidents, the EMS Coordinator may change the sign if requested.  Each community will be responsible for checking www.shelbycountyema.com on Monday, and Thursday mornings to get the current Fire Danger Rating.

Fire Danger rating will be a combination of the National Weather Service Grassland Fire Danger Index, as well as a review of the Probability of Ignition tables.  Based on these factors, the danger will be placed into one of the four categories: Low, Moderate, High and Extreme.

When the Fire Danger is….

  • Low: You are asked to call in and report your burning projects to dispatch at 712-755-2124, and notify your local Fire Chief.
  • Moderate: You are asked to call in and report your burning projects to dispatch at 712-755-2124, and notify your local Fire Chief. Timing for burns should be morning, or evening hours and extinguished by dark unless authorized by Fire Chief due to possible impacts to roads and health from smoke. Burns must be monitored at all times.
  • High: Burning of any kind is restricted unless approval is received from local Fire Chief. Controlled burns that are not reported will result in Fire Department being dispatched, and Fires extinguished if determined to be un-safe. Please call 712-755-2124 with questions
  • Extreme: – Burning is prohibited, unless you have a signed permit from the local Fire Chief. Fires on Extreme days can grow rapidly and pose a risk to the Health and Safety of the Community. If you have any questions please call 712-755-2124.

Seivert says they’re putting this information out to the public as an education tool, to lower the risk to responders and the public, of responding to controlled burns that are being properly carried out.  The importance of the program he says, is getting the Public to call in the burns to the Shelby County EMA, and getting the public in touch with the local Fire Chief who ultimately decides on how burning can be carried out under the published conditions.

Meeting in Oakland this Wed. on flood protection efforts

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 12th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

An official with the University of Iowa says a meeting will be held this Wednesday morning in Oakland, with regard to flood protection efforts in the area. Richard Lewis, Senior Research Writer at the U-of-I, says watershed management authorities will be formally creating flood-protection and water quality plans for the East Nishnabotna and West Nishnabotna River watersheds. Planning groups will meet 9-a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 14th) at the Oakland Community Center (614 Dr. VanZee Road), in Oakland.

More details about the meeting can be found here: http://bit.ly/2cH6lvS

Lewis says the meeting is a key step in moving the flood protection planning forward. It comes after the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa announced last June at meetings in Sidney and Glenwood, that it had obtained $96.9-million to address issues associated with the devastating and dangerous floods Iowa communities experience year-after-year.

Nine watersheds across Iowa will serve as project sites, including the East and West Nishnabotna Rivers.