KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Construction update on $240 million Prestage Foods plant coming to Iowa


September 4th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The president of the North Carolina based company that’s building a pork processing plant in north-central Iowa is providing an update on the $240 million project. Ron Prestage says a lot of work this summer was done “below ground” on the site in southern Wright County. “We’ve already dug one of the two wells,” Prestage said. “That well is almost 2,000 feet deep and will produce 2,000 gallons of water a minute. So, it’s a big well. We’re going to do another one this winter, primarily as a backup.”

Just over a year ago, the Prestage Foods project near Eagle Grove was awarded $11.5 million in state tax credits. Construction of the actual buildings on the site is now underway. Prestage expects the buildings will be done and equipment installed by NEXT fall, but the processing of animals won’t happen right away. “As you can imagine, having to train a new workforce, get all the equipment fine tuned – there’s a lot of computerization that’s going to be in this plant,” Prestage said. “It’s going to take a lot of work and coordination to get all of those things operating smoothly.”

The first hogs to be killed in the plant will likely come in November of 2018, according to Prestage. The facility will be one of the larger employers in the area. “There are going to be 1,000 employees working directly for us, but that doesn’t include a lot of other supportive roles that’ll be played by truck drivers and a lot of other people,” Prestage said.

Prestage chose to locate the pork plant near Eagle Grove after Mason City officials rejected plans for the plant in their city.

(Radio Iowa)

Deere exec says consumers worldwide growing dependent on food exports

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 4th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A John Deere executive says expanding U.S. trade is not just important for manufacturers, it’s important for consumers around the globe. “Today, about 15 or 16 percent of the world population relies on trade to solve their food needs. By 2050, that’s estimated to be north of 50 percent.”

Jim Field is president of John Deere’s Agriculture and Turf Division. He says it’s “vital” to enhance trade relationships. “If you look at the U.S. and you say there’s about 325 million acres of stable cropland and you project forward what is going to be the productivity enhancements and improvements that we would suggest we should see over the next 40 years and then you project forward what’s going to happen with domestic consumption here in the U.S., export has got to be part of the game,” Field says, “because we’re going to overproduce.”

Field says expanding exports of U.S. ag commodities is a security issue as well, since hunger and famine spawn instability. The U.S. currently has “free trade” agreements with 20 of the world’s 195 counties.

(Radio Iowa)

John Deere facility in Dubuque adds 250 production jobs

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 3rd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Equipment manufacturer John Deere has hired about 250 workers in Dubuque since last fall thanks to surging demand for new products. The Telegraph Herald reports the John Deere Dubuque Works facility now employs 1,300 production workers, its highest total since 2000. There are another 1,300 employees at the plant who work in other capacities such as engineering, sales and marketing.

General Manager Mark Dickson says he predicts adding another 50 workers by October. Dickson says the increasing orders and additional hires have boosted morale at the facility. The increases come a year after the company experienced layoffs and lagging sales.

The company laid off nearly 100 people in 2016. Its construction and forest division had an operating loss of $17 million at the end of fiscal year 2016.

Officials: Fish kill near Le Mars traced to ice cream plant

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 2nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says a fish kill in a northwestern Iowa stream has been traced to a Le Mars ice cream making plant. The department says ammonia from the Wells Enterprises plant, which makes Blue Bunny ice cream, found its way into the Plymouth County stream, killing a large number of minnow and chubs.

Officials say the ammonia was in cooling water discharge from the plant. The department said Friday it will continue to look for and verify the spill source and send water samples for laboratory analysis. DNR fisheries staff also planned to do a fish kill count Friday.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey tapped for USDA spot

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 2nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has been nominated for an administrative role in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The White House announced President Donald Trump’s nomination of Northey on Friday. The 57-year-old Northey has been picked to serve as the Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. A news release says the position was created in May as part of a re-organization at USDA.

Northey, a Republican, is in the midst of his third term as Iowa’s ag secretary. Northey graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Agricultural Business and received his master’s in business from Southwest Minnesota State University.

He must first be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before he can take over the USDA post.

Iowa officials: Survey numbers skewed for pheasants, quail

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

September 2nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — This year’s annual Iowa pheasant and quail population survey looks bad — a 30 percent drop in the average statewide pheasant population and a 23 percent decline for quail. But state officials say they believe the numbers are misleading.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials believe that unusually dry weather during the survey taken in August is to blame for the skewed numbers.

Upland wildlife biologist Todd Bogenschutz says surveyors need heavy dew the mornings of the survey to get accurate numbers. That’s because it’s the dew that causes hens to move their broods from cover to gravel roads to dry off. If there’s no dew, the brood stays hidden from surveyors.

Bogenschutz says he expects similar numbers this year to 2016’s pheasant season, when hunters harvested about 250,000 roosters.

Schuler Elementary receives $25k grant from Monsanto for a Science Lab

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 1st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Monsanto Fund, Friday night, presented Atlantic Community School District officials with a ceremonial check for $25,000. The funds are from the “Grow Rural Education” program, that allows eligible farmers to nominate their local public school district for grants to help enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. Since 2011, the program has given over $9-million dollars to rural school districts.

Once nominated, school districts submit applications to compete for $10,000 or $25,000 grants to help fund projects that enhance their STEM curriculum. Schuler Principal James Northwick and 5th Grade Teacher DeLana Harris applied for the grant, which will be used by the District to create a Science Lab for Schuler Elementary School.

Schuler Principal James Northwick and 5th Grade Teacher DeLana Harris receive a ceremonial version of a $25k check from Monsanto sales reps.

In general, the grants are used to help improve test scores, but more importantly, according to Monsanto officials, they’re getting kids to think bigger about their tomorrow. Other school area districts that were nominated and are receiving Grow Rural Education grant funds, include:

The Coon Rapids/Bayard Community School District: $10,000 for Equipment Allocation for Student Motivation, Innovation, and Experimentation;  And The Mt. Ayr Community School District: $10,000 for Science Investigation Using Virtual Reality (3D) Technology.

Le Mars fish kill likely came from local business

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 1st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

LE MARS—After looking for the cause of a fish kill in a small stream west of Le Mars Thursday afternoon, DNR traced the source to a local industry that uses ammonia as a refrigerant. Officials said the spill appears to be cooling water discharge from Wells Blue Bunny’s north plant. Normally the storm water discharge would not have ammonia in it, but DNR found elevated levels of ammonia below their discharge pipe.

There were several hundred dead minnows and chubs in the unnamed creek, but no obvious issues in the nearby Floyd River. The DNR recommends children and pets stay away from the creek near the ball park south of Highway 3 for at least 24 hours.

Ken Hessenius, supervisor of the Spencer DNR office, said Friday “This is a reminder to everyone that what you pour down a storm sewer or into a street goes directly to a creek and not to the wastewater plant. Some household chemicals which are flushed to sanitary sewers can be harmful to wastewater treatment plants. So be careful what you pour down the drain—sanitary or storm sewer.”

The DNR will continue to look for and verify the spill source, and send water samples for laboratory analysis. DNR fisheries staff were conducting a fish kill count today (Friday).

Cass County Conservation Board has events scheduled for this Fri.-Sat.

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 31st, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Conservation Board has several events set to take place over the next few days. The “Mysterious Monarchs” program will be held at various locations this Friday and Saturday, and again in Atlantic on Sept. 9th.

The events allow you to discover Monarch Butterflies before they begin their journey south, and includes tagging of the butterflies. If you want your own tagging kit, pre-register by calling 712-769-2372. The program will be held:

Friday, Sept. 1st: 4:30-p.m. at Lake Anita State Park Campground Loop; Saturday, Sept. 2nd: 2-p.m. at the Cold Springs State Park Campground Shelter, and 4-p.m. at the Outdoor Educational Classroom near Massena (get there by following Highway 148 south of Massena, turning left onto Tucson Road and proceeding 1.5 miles to the park, which will be on the right); Saturday, Sept. 9th: Camblins Addition Shelter at Sunnyside Park, in Atlantic.

The Conservation Board is also holding a “Movie in the Park” Campground program, featuring “Princess Bride,” 9-p.m. Friday, Sept. 1st, at Cold Springs State Park, in Lewis.

And, a “Stand up Paddleboard” demonstration will be held Sat., Sept. 2nd, at the COld Springs State Park beach, from 9-a.m. until Noon. The fun, total body work out offers a unique perspective when it comes to being on the water. After a quick demonstration, you can try out the board for yourself. If you do not bring a life jacket, one will be provided for you. Children must be 16 years or older.  There are 10 spots available.: 9-a.m., 5 spots and 10:30-a.m., 5 spots.  Call to pre-register your spot at 712-769-2372.

All the events are free and open to the public, not just campers.

USDA Report 8-31-2017

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

August 31st, 2017 by Jim Field

w/Denny Heflin.