DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report says the number of cattle and calves in large Iowa feedlots is unchanged from last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with capacities of 1,000 or more head totaled about 1.22 million on Jan. 1 – the same total as Jan. 1, 2015. However, the total is up 3 percent from December.
Cattle placements during December totaled 185,000 head, a decrease of 16 percent from November and down 8 percent from December 2014. About 142,000 fed cattle were marketed for the month of December, up 14 percent from the previous year.
The Carroll Airport Commission is going to court to try to resolve a long-running dispute with a local farmer. Airport officials say the grain handling tower Loren Danner built on his farm south of the Carroll airport is a flight hazard. It’s called a “grain leg” and it’s a permanent, upright tower that funnels corn and soybeans into a bin. Commission member Greg Siemann said “We were not notified and were not aware of its planned construction or construction until after the grain leg was fully constructed,” Siemann says. “That was done in a matter of days.”
The lack of notification is a violation of local ordinances, according to Siemann. Kevin Wittrock, who is also a member of the Carroll Airport Commission, says the structure is obscured under a plane’s left wing as it comes in to land on two of the runways. “If you fly a standard flight pattern to land on the runway, oddly enough you’ll go right over that grain leg,” Wittrock says. “…We feel it’s going to be a hazard.” A trial date has been set for June 28th.
Commission members say they’re not necessarily looking for complete removal of the structure and reducing its height by at least 61 feet would answer their concerns. Danner says the grain leg cost about 300-thousand dollars to build and lowering the system by just 40 feet would cost him 200-thousand dollars because of the conveyors he’d have to install to handle his grain.
Danner obtained a special permit from Carroll County officials for construction of the grain handling tower. In 2013, a county official said the F-A-A had determined the tower could remain if it was properly lit at night.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Friday) announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is accepting applications for grant funding through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program. The grants are available to support projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in Iowa. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, which administers the program, has reported that Iowa will receive $244,352.23 in funding this year.
Grant funds can be used for projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops that benefit the specialty crop industry as a whole and will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit a particular product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual.
Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, and producer, industry, and community based organizations are all eligible to apply for funding to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. In addition, single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.
Grant awards will be considered up to a maximum of $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months (2 ½ years). “Specialty Crops” that are eligible under this program are fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture. Both fresh and processed specialty crops are eligible.
Proposals must be received by IDALS on or before 4:00 p.m. on Monday, May 2, 2016. For more information visit the IDALS Specialty Crop Block Grant program at the Department’s web site at www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp.
The Department is again establishing a Review Committee to help review, evaluate, and make recommendations on grant proposals submitted to the Department. Those interested in participating in the Review Committee should have knowledge of specialty crops, and/or grant writing or grant management experience, and the ability to devote the necessary time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can also be found at www.IowaAgriculture.gov/Horticulture_and_FarmersMarkets/specialtyCropGrant.asp.
Applications to participate in the Reviewer Committee are due Friday, March 25, 2016 by 4 p.m. In addition, to ensure that funds are used in the most efficient manner possible, the Department is asking specialty crop stakeholders and organizations to submit public comments on program priorities. The comments will help the Department identify priorities; establish the criteria used to evaluate the projects proposed for funding, and to determine how the reviews are conducted.
Iowans interested in submitting comments about the program can do so online by emailing HorticultureAndFarmersMarkets@IowaAgriculture.gov or by mail to Horticulture and Farmers Market Bureau, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, 502 East 9th, Des Moines, Iowa, 50319. Comments received by May 2, 2016 will be presented to the review committee to assist in prioritizing projects.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A survey shows some bankers had a dire view of the rural economy in their 10 Western and Plains states. A report released today (Thursday) says January’s Rural Mainstreet Index plunged to 34.8 from 41.5 in December. It’s the lowest overall index figure since August 2009. Survey officials say any score below 50 on any of the survey’s indexes suggests that factor will decline.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the monthly survey of rural bankers and says it’s the fifth straight month for a decline. He again blames lower prices for agriculture and energy commodities and downturns in manufacturing.
The farmland and ranchland price index dropped to 23.9 in January from December’s 28.8. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
The Department of Natural Resources is warning everyone to be careful out on the ice covering Iowa’s lakes and rivers after four snowmobiles recently went into the water at the Great Lakes. Conservation officer Steve Reighard, says two sets of snowmobilers got a chilly dip in the water. “There’s a couple of gentlemen that actually rode snowmobiles into it at night, Thursday night. No injuries, they were able to get out. No damage to the sleds other than they had to dry those out also. And then again Saturday morning, two individuals went through,” Reighard says. “And Saturday morning with the cold temperatures there was a thin skim of ice over the open water. We got a little bit of snow cover so it looked like it was solid out there, and they drove out onto that thin ice and broke through. There again, they weren’t injured.”
He says conditions have been different on the lakes this years as the water was high at the start of winter when the lakes started to freeze and continued flowing. “With that current flowing through there, it’s keeping that water open or the ice extremely thin,” Reighard explains. “Plus, the ice never does freeze evenly. There’s a lot of variability out there — I’ve seen it as thick as 13 inches on West Okoboji, and also as thin as three in the last week.”
He says the bridges around the Great Lakes pinches down the flow of the water, which makes it faster and less likely to freeze. Reighard says there are similar situations across the state with the ice this winter. And he says no matter where you go on the ice, the one constant is there is no guarantee of perfectly frozen ice. “It’s not like the ice cubes in your tray in your freezer — and even if you look at those — they don’t always freeze the same either,” he says. “There’s just to many variabilities with water depth, on obstacles underneath the ice, springs, currents, all of those things come into effect.”
Some people are driving vehicles onto the ice to fish, and Reighard says that’s something he never recommends because of the uncertainty of the ice depth.
Four officers were elected during the Montgomery County Extension Council organizational meeting held Jan. 18th. The nine-member council annually elects officers to comply with Iowa law. Joe Jardon, of Red Oak, is the re-elected chairperson. Jardon will preside at all meetings of the extension council, have authority to call special meetings and perform duties performed and exercised by a chairperson of a board of directors of a corporation. Mike Olson, of Red Oak, was elected vice chairperson.
Darcy Dalton, of Villisca, was elected secretary; and has the responsibility of keeping the minutes of all extension council meetings and signing required papers for the council. The council elected Bill Drey, of Red Oak, to the treasurer position. The treasurer receives, deposits, has charge of all of the funds of the extension council, and pays and disburses funds. The treasurer insures an accurate record of receipts and disbursements and submits reports to the extension council.
The council is the county governing body of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. They hire county staff, manages the county extension budget of approximately $366,000, and helps determine programming. In partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the council provides educational opportunities that bring university resources to the needs of the county and region. Local extension programs include 4-H, after school programs, Master Gardeners, and Powerful Tools for Caregivers
The Montgomery County Extension office is located in Red Oak.
Poultry producers in Iowa are on high alert as an outbreak of avian influenza is being dealt with in Indiana. At least ten turkey farms in a single Indiana county are reported infected. T-J Myers, an administrator at the U-S-D-A’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the outbreaks appears to be contained. “There’s been a lot of good work to increase our preparatory efforts at the federal side, the state side and the industry side,” Myers says. “Industry and poultry producers have been doing a lot to strengthen their biosecurity so we are hopeful that as we respond very quickly to this virus that we can get it contained.”
The Indiana situation is being closely monitored and Myers says the agency is not calling for vaccinations. “Our vaccination policy is to only use it if we feel that it would be an important adjunct to our stamping out policy,” he says. “At this point, we are not looking to do any sort of vaccination.” While the bird flu outbreak appears to have spread to multiple farms in Indiana, they are all in close proximity within one county and officials believe the spread has been halted.
Given that, vaccinations shouldn’t be needed. “That’s something that we would only use if we felt that it was necessary to assist us in containing a spreading virus,” Myers says, “which we are not looking at right now.” A total of 77 poultry operations in Iowa had bird flu outbreaks last spring and more than 31-million chickens and turkeys were wiped out in Iowa, which was by far the worst-hit state.
Losses in Iowa alone from the outbreak may total one-billion dollars. No new cases of bird flu have been reported in Iowa since last June and the final quarantine was lifted on December 1st.
Longevity will be the key to profitability when it comes to replacement heifers that entered the herd over the past few years. Identifying, managing, and breeding for females that will maintain themselves well into the future can be a daunting task.
To help producers manage achieve more longevity from replacement females, the Iowa Beef Center is partnering with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA), ABS Global, Accelerated Genetics, Select Sires and Merial to conduct a series of seven educational workshops across the state titled, “Heifer Development 3: Breeding & Selecting for Longevity & Profit.”
This is the third installment of the heifer development series, building on our 2011 and 2014 programs on yearling and first-calf heifer best management practices, respectively. The focus of this year’s series is on current genetic and phenotypic selection tools that can be utilized to improve cow longevity and enhance lifetime productivity. A meal will be served at each site and cost is $20 when preregistered three days prior to event. Walk-in registration is $25 per person with no guarantee of meal. Dates and locations (all will be held from 5 to 9 p.m.) are as follows:
Feb. 1, Cass County Community Center, Atlantic
Feb. 2, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Cherokee
Feb. 3, Carpenter’s Hall, Chariton
Feb 9, Washington Co. Extension Office, Washington
Feb. 10, Muse Norris Conference Center at NIACC, Mason City
Feb. 11, Jones Co. Extension Office, Monticello
March 2, Hansen Ag Student Learning Center, Ames
See session information and registration details on the Iowa Beef Center website. Or contact your regional Extension beef specialist for details on a site near you. We hope to see you at one of these sessions.
Atlantic Parks and Recreation Director Roger Herring Monday evening updated the Parks & Rec Board on the status of fundraising efforts for Schildberg Recreation Area and other park improvements. With regard to a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant, Herring said progress “Is movin.” Herring said they have authorization from the Feds and State to go ahead with the design phase of the Schildberg Lake #2 trail, and he hopes to have bid letting in July. Completion is expected to occur later this fall.
Herring said there was a delay in getting the grant approved, due to red tape with regard to “coding.”
Part of the trail is in the City limits, but since the original request was to have it outside the City limits, the powers that be had to re-evaluate the whole process. In other news, Roger Herring said he and Assistant Parks & Rec Director Seth Staashelm have been putting together a grant request from the Cass County Community Foundation that has to be turned-in by no later than May 31st. The application will be for anywhere from $15-to $20,000, for upgrades to some City Parks.
That includes Harl-Holt Park at 17th and Olive Streets, behind the old YMCA building. Staashelm says they would like to upgrade equipment at the park, including replacement of the basketball court at the park. Instead of replacing the concrete, they could install something called a “Versacourt,” Which is a plastic tiling outdoor system. The Parks and Rec crew can assemble and secure the system themselves, which would save on costs. Another benefit is different types of recreational lines can be placed on the court, including basketball and pickelball, to name but a few. The product has a 15-year warranty.
They also hope to update or replace some playground equipment at the Harl-Holt Park, and retrofitting the swing. Roger Herring said they are also working on a Vision Iowa grant application. Currently, they are soliciting Letters of Support for the grant application. That includes revisiting previous persons or entities that have supported prior grant applications, and a Resolution of Support from the City and others.
The goal is to submit the application by April 14th. In other business, Staashelm and Herring received approval from the Parks and Rec Board to have a special Online Reservations program created so that people can check to see what City Park shelters are available, and make reservations for the use of those shelters. The computer program and services would cost around $700. It would save Herring and Staashelm countless hours in scheduling and confirming shelter house reservations.