Thanksgiving is ten days away and Iowans will likely be paying a little more for the centerpiece of the feast, according to poultry science expert Ron Kean. “Turkey prices will be up slightly this year,” Kean says. “We’re still suffering some effects from the avian influenza outbreak. Probably, prices will be up 10 to 15% from last year.”
Prices will be even higher, he says, for fresh turkeys or organic turkeys. “For frozen turkeys, the typical price will be maybe $1.15 to $1.20 a pound, would be my expectation,” Kean says. “And again, there will always be sales and some stores will cut that price to get you in the store.”
The bird flu wiped out about 10% of nation’s turkey production this spring. Iowa had more than 70 outbreaks of bird flu in 18 counties, which led to some 32-million turkeys and chickens being euthanized. There is concern migrating wild birds — ducks and geese — will bring another round of avian flu as they make their way south this fall but, so far, so good.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Sioux City officials are preparing to vote on a pledge for the city to provide $2 million and 12 acres for an agriculture exposition and learning center near the former site of a food manufacturing facility. The Sioux City Journal reports the city council will be asked Monday to vote on the pledge, which will be contingent on a $1 million pledge from Missouri River Historical Development and a $2 million pledge from Woodbury County.
The city’s commitment would take $200,000 annually for 10 years from the capital improvement plan budget. The proposed project at the site of the former John Morrell Plant will cost about $11 million to $14 million total. Member of the Ag Expo and Learning Center Board, Dennis Gann, says the facility could open as early as 2017 if all the funding is secured.
Nine Iowa businesses have won rural development grants from the U-S-D-A worth more than one-point-two million dollars. Among them, is Sawmill Hollow, in Missouri Valley, which received $250,000 in grant funds to help market an organic aronia berry product line in 15 key markets.
U-S-D-A Rural Development State Director, Bill Menner, says the grants are part of the “Value-Added Producer” program. “These grants are intended to help ag producers add value to their products. Sometimes they’re doing feasibility studies, sometimes it’s working capital, sometimes it’s helping them to promote the products. But these are all value-added producers who are doing really interesting things in rural communities,” Menner says.
The producers make and grow a variety of items, including goat cheese and lotions. “There’s an orchard that’s going to produce hard cider,” Menner says, “three different dairies using working capital to enhance or increase their production, and there’s even a grower out in western Iowa who is growing what are called aronia berries — which are the new super fruit.” The grants range from 43-thousand up to 250-thousand dollars.
“These producers have to show us a plan for their business, they have to show us how they’ll use the money, they have to have feasibility built into it. It’s actually a pretty complicated process,” Menner says.
Also included among the grant recipients, was Penoach Winery and Nursery in Adel, which received $48,000 in grant funds will be used to assist the winery to expand markets and increase sales.
The owner of a tractor museum in Avoca received a surprise in the mail, recently. According to the Daily NonPareil, Jerry Mez, who owns the Farmall-Land U.S.A. Museum with his wife, Joyce, received word from Rep. David Young congratulating the business on 10 years in Avoca. Additionally, the Republican – who represents Iowa’s third district, which includes Pottawattamie County – commended the Mez family on the Congressional floor. He received the letter and Congressional record notice, which he now proudly displays at the museum located just off Interstate 80.
Mez is an International Harvester tractor man, collecting the implement for 40 years. The couple opened the museum a decade ago and today it boasts about 225 tractors, along with a plethora of memorabilia. A Young staffer had read about the museum and passed it on to his boss. The representative honored the museum in Congress on July 21st.
Jerry Mez thought that’d be the end of it. But he heard about an International Harvester auction in Frederick, Maryland, located about 45 miles outside Washington D.C. He and his wife made the trip east and set up a meeting with Young.
More predictions point toward gloomy financial times ahead for Iowa farmers as commodity prices trend lower for corn and soybeans. Rod Johansson, an economist with the U-S Department of Agriculture, says those commodity prices have continued to drop and have now reached a crucial point. “They may be coming down so far that in some cases, farmers aren’t meeting the cost of production,” Johansson says. Despite predictions for record or near-record yields, the abysmal prices mean many farmers may have to make some difficult decisions as they plan for the months ahead.
“Producers start digging into their capital reserves and they also see a reflection in the negotiated land rent values,” he says. “We would expect to see an increase in loan activity occurring in the banking sector.” As they head into spring planting season in a few months, some Iowa farmers may chose to leave select plots of land unplanted, as it may cost more to grow a crop than the crop is worth.
Johansson says, “Marginal production acres, low-yield acres, high-cost production acres would likely exit from production if prices remain too low to cover production costs on those acres.” Some farmers may have to dip into their rainy day funds to make ends meet. He says the good news is there are back-up plans in place as many farmers have insurance and there are safety net programs built into the Farm Bill.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – An old tool plant in Sioux City is being transformed for use in processing organic ingredients. The Sioux City Journal reports that American Natural Processors Inc. wants to expand its contract manufacturing business at the former Sioux Tools plant. Company owner Mark Schuett says the century-old structure would be used to process specialty organic and nongenetically modified proteins as well as for packaging, warehousing and distribution.
Schuett told the newspaper he didn’t have an estimate on the total cost of the project, which is expected to be finished by next fall. The project is expected to create 20 to 25 jobs.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With most of this year’s corn and soybeans harvested, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is boosting its expectations for the size of the crops. An update Tuesday says farmers are expected to produce a record soybean crop totaling 3.98 billion bushels, up 1 percent from last year. That’s based on 95 percent of the crop harvested.
Illinois looks to remain the nation’s leading soybean producer with 550.5 million bushels, followed closely by Iowa. The corn crop will be the third-largest in USDA records at 13.7 billion bushels, based on 93 percent harvested. Iowa maintains its corn production lead with 2.49 billion bushels.
The abundance is sending downward prices that are already below production costs. Farmers who rent land will struggle to make a profit. Consumers shouldn’t see much effect.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Agriculture officials say an unusually warm start to November has helped Iowa corn and soybean farmers nearly complete this year’s harvest. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says statewide temperatures were about nine degrees above normal last week, making it the warmest start to November since 2008. That allowed farmers to get 93 percent of the corn crop out of the fields, nine days ahead of last year’s harvest and two days ahead of the five-year average.
Agriculture officials say they’ve received reports of piles of corn on the ground at some ethanol plants and local elevators. Soybean farmers have 98 percent of the crop harvested, a week ahead of last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture updates its estimate of the size of this year’s harvest today (Tuesday).
Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said Monday, an elk of unknown origin in west central Iowa was shot at the request of the DNR Sunday morning, to protect the Iowa deer herd and domestic livestock from the potential impacts of chronic wasting disease and other diseases.
Elk sightings in Iowa are fairly common and when an elk is spotted, the DNR works with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to determine status of elk and the best available options. If the elk can be returned to the proper owners, then they are. If not, they then pose a risk to spreading CWD and/or other diseases and are dispatched.
The bull elk, estimated at 3-4 years old, was killed Sunday morning by a Monona County deputy sheriff as directed by the DNR after it appeared in front of a farmer combining his field. The animal was examined for identification markings without success and was buried according to Iowa livestock burial regulations in Monona County Monday morning. The brain stem and lymph nodes were removed for testing.
While the risk that escapees are introducing CWD or TB to Iowa’s wild deer may be small, the consequence to the resource is enormous and it is a risk that should be avoided. Removing a wandering elk is the responsibility of the Iowa DNR working in conjunction with the IDALS, and is not allowed by the public.