KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Iowa farmland values increase slightly

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 15th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The annual Iowa State University Land Value Survey finds a modest one-point-seven percent statewide increase in the value of an acre of farmland in 2020. Survey leader Wendong Zhang says there was a big difference in price changes based on the type of land. “Nearly flat for higher quality and six-point-seven percent growth for low-quality land,” Zhang says. “Overall across the nine crop reporting districts, only southwest Iowa saw a modest one percent decline. While the other eight crop reporting districts reported a zero to three percent growth.”

That puts the average price of an acre of ground at seven-thousand-559 dollars ($7,559). He says continued low interest rates were part of the reason for the slight land value increase.  Zhang says another driver is a recent rally in commodity prices because of surging exports and improved trade prospects. Zhang says the federal payments to farmers from the pandemic had some impact — but he doesn’t think we’ve seen their full impact yet.

“About 46 BILLION dollars was a significant portion of the COVID relief payments and that has resulted in the 30 to 40 percent growth in U-S farm income and that certainly has stabilized the market. But it takes multiple years for changes in government payments and interest rates to be fully capitalized in the land market,” according to Zhang. Scott County and Decatur Counties reported the highest and lowest values, respectively for the eighth straight year. Despite having the highest overall value — land values in Scott County decreased 178 dollars per acre to 10-thousand-659.

Decatur County saw average values increase 264 dollars per acre to three-thousand-849 ($3,849). He says the lower value land has an increasing demand outside of the normal crop production. “For the lower quality land, it seems that one of the factors is a strong demand for recreational acres might behind the six-point-seven percent growth compared to the one-point-seven percent average statewide,” he says. Zhang says people want that land for pasture and timber grounds for hunting and it is even more appealing with social-distancing requirements in place.

Zhang says this survey didn’t show the impact of the political landscape — but another indicates it could impact land issues in the future. He says a Purdue University survey that shows farmers are more concerned about whether there will be more environmental regulations, less farm subsidies and less support for ethanol. “So there are some and concerns.” Zhang says on the other side their is some thought that there could be fewer questions about trade issues with a new administration. He says the land values are likely to continue slowly improving.

Zhang says they asked professionals about the value one year and five years from now and they project stable land values with maybe a slight increase in the next 12 months. He says the projection for the next five years is an increase of value between five and ten percent.

NRCS Obligates Nearly $60 Million to Iowa Farmers in Conservation Assistance


December 14th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, IA, DEC. 14, 2020 — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) contracted with Iowa farmers and landowners to treat natural resources on more than 316,000 acres, obligating $59.8 million in financial assistance during fiscal year 2020 that ended Sept. 30. NRCS also wrote 12,624 conservation plans that cover 889,071 acres, during fiscal year 2020. The conservation plans will help Iowa farmers reduce soil erosion, improve soil health and water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and treat other environmental issues.

Iowa NRCS assisted agricultural producers through several conservation programs and targeted initiatives, including the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). “Like so many industries, implementing conservation practices and programs is challenging during a pandemic,” said Jon Hubbert, State Conservationist for NRCS in Iowa. “With many of our offices open by appointment only or completely closed to the public, it’s been important for our staff to find other ways to communicate and work with farmers. I am extremely proud of our staff, Iowa conservation partners, and Iowa’s agricultural producers for working together during this difficult time to get conservation on the ground.”

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Through EQIP, NRCS obligated $30.1 million to treat 126,696 acres through 1,022 contracts. EQIP is a voluntary program that promotes agricultural production and environmental quality. Farmers can choose from a conservation practice list developed at the county level to treat local resource concerns.

Top EQIP Practices Adopted – Some of the top conservation practices adopted by Iowans through EQIP include:

Cover Crops (1,116 contracts/149,168 acres/$6.3 million)
Fence (383 contracts/992,253 feet/$1.2 million)
Brush Management (292 contracts/2,667 acres/$465,419)
Prescribed Grazing (269 contracts/15,258 acres/$474,322)

Top Counties for EQIP
State leaders in EQIP contracts, funding, and acres treated:

Wayne County led the state with 36 contracts, obligating $1.5 million to local farmers, helping to treat resource concerns on 2,106 acres.
Sioux County finished 2020 with 34 contracts, providing $865,760 to help treat natural resources on 4,865 acres.
Jackson County had 30 EQIP contracts, obligating $440,606 which will help treat 2,362 acres.

Other statewide EQIP highlights include:

Nearly $8 million will assist livestock grazing producers implement conservation practices on their pastures.
More than $3.6 million through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) for practices in targeted watersheds that will help control, trap and reduce nutrient runoff.
About $1 million in the Prairie Pothole counties in north central Iowa to seed conservation cover and other wildlife habitat on water-saturated portions of cropland fields.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP): Iowa NRCS obligated about $17.4 million through new and renewed CSP contracts during the past year. In fiscal year 2020, 395 Iowa farmers signed five-year CSP contracts to treat natural resource concerns on 187,981 acres. CSP helps farmers build on existing conservation efforts by customizing a plan to meet conservation goals and needs. More than $1.7 million in CSP funding is contracted for Monarch Butterfly habitat through the “Improving Working Lands for Monarch Butterflies” project. Thirty-two Iowa landowners signed up for the project in 2020, providing 12,100 acres of habitat.

Overall, northeast Iowa landowners signed 51 percent of new and renewed CSP contracts in 2020:

Winneshiek County led the state with 34 CSP contracts, totaling 15,953 acres, with an obligation of $1.43 million.
Jackson County was next with 22 contracts, covering 4,973 acres with an obligation of $714,500.
Chickasaw County finished with 20 CSP contracts that cover 5,879 acres, obligating $576,850.
Floyd County had 19 contracts, covering 15,652 acres with an obligation of $833,808.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP): In fiscal year 2020, Iowa NRCS obligated $2.8 million through RCPP to treat natural resource concerns on 22,916 cropland acres. NRCS assisted producers through RCPP partnership agreements and 69 contracts. RCPP promotes coordination between NRCS and its partners through agreements and program contracts. Currently, there are six RCPP projects in Iowa that focus on improving water quality and soil health, implementing monarch butterfly and other wildlife habitat, and creating sustainable grain supply chains.

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP): Seven landowners in six Iowa counties placed agricultural land into conservation easements through ACEP in 2020. The new easements cover 1,755 acres at a price to NRCS of about $10.5 million. Through ACEP, NRCS helps landowners, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms through conservation easements. Overall, there are 1,664 conservation easements in Iowa covering about 190,000 acres.

NRCS also provided Iowa easement owners about $1.8 million for stewardship activities on existing easements. For more detailed Iowa NRCS program results and information, visit

Produce in the Park “Christmas Pop-Up Market” now accepting pre-orders

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 14th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

ATLANTIC, IA (December 14, 2020) –Produce in the Park’s Christmas Pop-Up Market is now open and taking pre-orders. Shoppers can visit, to see a full list of all 11 participating vendors with products offerings and to pre-order online. If a shopper isn’t comfortable ordering online, they are encouraged to contact the vendor about alternative payment and ordering options. Vendor phone numbers can also be found on the website.

Pre-orders will be accepted through midnight, Saturday December 19. Purchases will be available for drive-through pickup on Monday, December 21 between 2:00 –6:00 PM at the Cass County Community Center (805 W. 10thSt. Atlantic, IA 50022). In order to comply with current state mandates and keep customers and vendors safe, Christmas Pop-Up Market will not offer indoor in-person shopping.

Christmas Pop-Up Market is being held the Monday before Christmas so customers can pick up local produce, baked goods, jellies, meats, Christmas cookies, and more to enjoy at their holiday meals. The market also offers holiday gifts and cozy winter home décor by local crafters and artisans, including candles and soaps, Christmas decorations and tea towels, along with Christmas cookie decorating kits.For more information on Christmas Market visit Produce in the Park’s website, the Produce in the Park Facebook page, or contact Market Manager Brigham Hoegh at produceintheparkatlanticiowa@gmail.comor 712-249-5870.

Report finds dairy industry supports more than 15K Iowa jobs

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A comprehensive review of Iowa’s dairy industry details its importance to the state and regional economies. Northwest Iowa Extension dairy specialist Fred Hall says the report, which is done every five years, shows the state’s dairy industry is having a significant impact and it’s continuing to gain momentum. Hall says, “The industry represents about 15,600 jobs and the impact of each single dairy cow in the state to the community is about $25,500 dollars.” It’s not just about the milk, as Hall says the spin-off benefits from all dairy products contribute heavily to each Iowa community where there’s a dairy farm. “They can bottle it for milk, they can make cheese, yogurt, dried powder,” Hall says. “Really, once it leaves the farm, it has a tremendous application.”

The report says the prospects for Iowa’s dairy producers are bright as milk and milk products are in high demand globally. “The export of dairy product into growing countries is tremendous,” Hall says. “As our population grows in this country, we find a bigger market every day for milk.” He notes, that’s not necessarily just fluid milk but all of the other products created with milk. The report shows dairy revenue is expected to continue to rise by more than one-percent to close to $40 billion.

Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish license on sale Dec. 15

Ag/Outdoor, Sports

December 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

Iowa anglers can buy the Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish license and tags starting Dec. 15th and running through Jan. 7th. Buy your special paddlefish license and tags on the Iowa DNR online licenses sales website at A resident license sells for $25.50. You must also have a valid Iowa fishing license. You can buy up to two tags – one from Dec. 15 to Dec. 31 and an additional tag from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, or two tags if you didn’t buy one in December.

The license, harvest tag(s), and regulations will be mailed to purchasers in mid-January. Purchasers will be asked to complete an electronic survey to help the Iowa DNR evaluate the success of the paddlefish season. Please complete the survey whether you harvested a paddlefish or not.  The Iowa DNR is always working to improve the paddlefish season for anglers; any input provided is considered and is greatly appreciated.

The Missouri and Big Sioux River paddlefish season opens Feb. 1st and runs through April 30th. For more information about Iowa’s special paddlefish season, visit the DNR website at

Deer hunters reminded to brush up on safe firearm handling, safety skills

Ag/Outdoor, Sports

December 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) responded to six incidents related to shotgun deer hunting last weekend  (12/5-6) – five related to property damage and one minor injury. Megan Wisecup, hunter education administrator for the Iowa DNR, says “The incidents all had a common theme of hunters not following safety protocol.”  Wisecup said following safety protocol can reduce the risk of injury and property damage. She said hunters should keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, properly identifying the target and what’s behind it, by not shooting at a running deer, and by making sure of the backstop and not shooting over the horizon and out of sight.

“Safety should be part of every hunting plan and discussed with the group before heading to the timber,” Wisecup said. “That includes discussion on the layout of the property, where everyone will be at all times during the hunt, where the roads and property boundary are and areas where they should not take a shot to avoid damaging private property.” Iowa’s first shotgun season ends Dec. 9. Second shotgun season is Dec. 12-20. An estimated 120,000 hunters are expected to participate in one of the two seasons.

2021 hunting, fishing licenses on sale Dec. 15

Ag/Outdoor, Sports

December 12th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

Iowans can buy 2021 resident hunting, fishing and other licenses beginning this Tuesday, Dec. 15.  Licenses purchased for 2020 expire on Jan. 10th, 2021. The Iowa DNR says the menu of license options includes the popular Outdoor Combo annual resident hunting/fishing/habitat combo license for $55; the Angler’s Special three-year fishing license for $62; and the Hunter’s Special three-year hunting license with habitat included for $101. Also available is the Bonus Line option for $14 letting resident and nonresident anglers to fish with one more line in addition to the two lines allowed with the regular fishing license.

You can upgrade your paper license to a durable hard card with custom art from Iowa artists for only $5. Download the GoOutdoorsIowa mobile app for iPhone and Android devices to buy and access your license information, no matter where you are.  Sync your hunting and fishing licenses on the app to show in the field.  You may download multiple customer licenses to offer one secure digital license document location for families, groups, and more.

Licenses are available at 700 locations across the state, and on the DNR website at Hunting and fishing are often enjoyed with family and friends. The DNR hints “A fishing or hunting license makes a great stocking stuffer.”

Iowa commodities group leader praises pick of Vilsack to head USDA

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 11th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – It’s official, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is being named by President-elect Joe Biden as the U-S Secretary of Agriculture, a post Vilsack held during all eight years of the Obama administration. Jeff Jorgenson, president of the Iowa Soybean Association, says Vilsack represents Midwestern agriculture well and he looks forward to working with him again. “As an Iowa farmer and even as a U.S. farmer, with Vilsack being in the system before, we kind of know where he stands on some issues and what we have in agriculture,” Jorgenson says. “We’re going to understand where we’re at in a lot of regards and sometimes that has some bonuses along with that.”

Vilsack was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate eight years ago and is expected to easily win confirmation again in 2021, but Biden’s decision is drawing criticism from some quarters. Some environmental groups charge Vilsack is too closely tied to large-scale, corporate agriculture. A coalition representing black farmers says Vilsack did not do enough as ag secretary to address racial inequities in access to loans for farmland. Jorgenson says one of Vilsack’s main strengths is his knowledge and support of the ethanol and biodiesel industries.  “His understanding of regulations and biofuels and what we deal with as farmers and what we’re trying to get to as a country, I think he has a very good understanding of it,” Jorgenson says. “Really, he’s a very moderating voice. He knows how to get people to the table and work together and try to get through some differences and really move forward.”

Jorgenson says Vilsack knows the importance of trade and our key trading partners. “Vilsack has an understanding of China and he’s dealt with them a lot of years,” Jorgenson says. “He was CEO of the Dairy Council and he understands these exports and where we need to be internationally with trade. This opens him up for every product in agriculture and I think it’s a positive.” Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President Carl Jardon released a statement saying “ICGA congratulates Tom Vilsack on his nomination to serve as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Being an Iowa native, Vilsack understands the significance of rural America and the importance of corn and biofuels. We had great success when Vilsack served as Secretary for eight years under the Obama Administration, and we welcome the opportunity to work with him again in this key role.”

Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill says his organization is very pleased Vilsack has been chosen to once again lead the U-S-D-A. Hill says Vilsack has remained engaged in agriculture since his eight-year stint as U-S ag secretary four years ago and has a deep understanding of the struggles farmers face. Vilsack is a Democrat and he’s getting support from Iowa U-S Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican. In a statement on Tuesday, Grassley said: “I liked what Vilsack did as the secretary of agriculture for eight years and if he was in for another four years, it would be okay with me.”

Private Pesticide Applicators Have Options for Completing Continuing Education Courses Pre-registration required for 2020-21 Season


December 10th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Extension office will again host continuing instructional courses (CICs) for local private pesticide applicators this year, but applicators are strongly encouraged to pre-register to ensure admittance on the day of a scheduled show. To accommodate schedules and reduce class sizes, multiple methods and formats to attend the training will be offered from December-March. Any registered applicator in Cass County should have received a brochure in the mail in early December outlining upcoming training dates and options. Two types of trainings are currently scheduled in Cass County. A “Live Zoom” option will be offered monthly from December to March, with applicators attending the training in person at the office, and the instructor teaching the program remotely. A Face to Face option, with both the instructor and participants in the meeting room, will be offered in January and March. Individual or small group DVD showings are also available on a limited basis, as scheduling allows. All trainings, regardless of method, will be offered for the usual $20 fee to cover materials.

To follow social distancing recommendations, the Cass County Extension Office will be limiting attendance at CIC trainings. Individuals registering in advance will be guaranteed a seat, or informed if the showing is full and offered another date. Applicators showing up without registering on the scheduled date may be turned away if the meeting room is already at capacity for the day. Pre-registration can be done by calling, emailing or stopping by the office. Cass County Extension will be following all mandates as outlined by the Iowa Governor’s office, which currently means that attendees at indoor programs will be required to wear masks when unable to distance. Applicators needing additional options for no-contact re-shows are asked to call the Extension Office for information on available formats.

To ensure a spot on the training schedule, applicators needing to complete CIC for the year are asked to call as soon as possible to register for scheduled dates, or to reserve a DVD show time. Training dates can be scheduled locally by calling the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132 or by emailing Office Manager Lori Anderson at Individuals wishing to complete the training in another county should call that county for information, as training dates, availability and procedures vary by office. For more information on the Private Pesticide Applicator CIC classes statewide, please visit Applicators have until April 15, 2021, to attend a P-CIC program and maintain a current license.

USDA Report 12-10-2020

Ag/Outdoor, Podcasts

December 10th, 2020 by Jim Field

w/Max Dirks.