United Group Insurance

KJAN Ag/Outdoor

Local 24-Hour Rainfall/Snowfall Totals at 7:00 am on Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Ag/Outdoor, Weather

November 24th, 2020 by Chris Parks

  • KJAN, Atlantic  .28″ (.5″ snow)
  • 7 miles NNE of Atlantic  .28″ (1″ snow)
  • Massena  .13″ (2″ snow)
  • Clarinda  .39″ (Trace snow)
  • Bridgewater  3″ snow
  • Neola  1″ snow
  • Audubon  .36″  (1.5″ snow)
  • Guthrie Center  .39″ (1″ snow)
  • Oakland  .28″ (.5″ snow)
  • Manning .13″
  • Logan  .42″ (1.5″ snow)
  • Red Oak  .37″ (1″ snow)

Drought conditions worsen in parts of western Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

November 24th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – While there have been scattered showers, parts of Iowa have had very little rain since mid-summer and the continued dry weather is drawing down soil moisture levels. State climatologist Justin Glisan says while drought conditions are lessening in some areas, they’re worsening elsewhere, as much of Iowa’s western third is now in moderate to severe drought. “Subsoil conditions across much of the region show a below-normal percentile,” Glisan says. “Recent warm and windy days produced higher evaporate demand in the atmosphere, so the atmosphere is thirsty, especially for this time of year, those conditions allow for extraction of any subsoil moisture or surface moisture that we see.”

We’re heading into a drier time of year, so Glisan says it will be difficult to recharge soil moisture levels before spring. “With a lack of precipitation, this makes rainfall infiltration when we do get it harder to get down deep,” he says. Glisan says that lack of soil moisture may bring some help to Iowa’s farmers in the spring. “The silver lining here is that moving into the growing season, drier-than-normal conditions will make field work and planting easier,” Glisan says. “If you go back, the last two or three years, we’ve had pretty wet conditions going into the growing season with record subsoil moisture which delayed planting.”

Conditions could change within a matter of several weeks, as Glisan says the trends point to above-normal precipitation for January through March.

Ammonia plant in north-central Iowa to get $140M upgrade


November 23rd, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) A major upgrade is planned for the Koch Fertilizer plant near the Webster County town of Duncombe to boost ammonia production. The upgrades will boost yearly production by 85,000 tons. The work on the project will begin next year with completion by the fall of 2022. The cost of the project is estimated at $140 million. Koch officials did not say if there will be any new jobs with the upgrade. The plant has been in operation for over 50 years.

Expanding IA’s Solar Tax Credit Seen as Economic Boost During Crisis

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 23rd, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Iowa News Service) DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa hasn’t seen as much economic pain as some other states during the pandemic, but many residents and small businesses are still struggling.
Supporters of expanding the state’s solar tax credit say it could help with any recovery from the crisis. The reimbursement budget for Iowa’s credit is capped at $5 million annually, and with many homeowners and businesses investing in solar panels, there’s a waiting list to get return dollars from the state.

Aerial shot top view of solar panel photovoltaic farm

Cody Smith, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs, said that’s why the Legislature should consider modifications. He noted immediately paying those on the waiting list, while increasing the cap, would help a lot of Iowans hurting right now. “Now that we have this economic problem caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this solar tax credit could help put money back into the pockets of people who own those small businesses on main street, and people who have already invested in renewable solar energy,” Smith contended. Smith asserted Iowa should also decouple from the federal incentive, given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding that plan.

Rep. John Forbes, D-Urbandale, said he’ll advocate for an expansion in the next session. But he warns its future could depend on the upcoming budget forecast, and whether small businesses see more declines from the crisis. He also wondered whether Republican leaders will consider the idea. Certain sectors of Iowa’s economy, such as manufacturing, have held steady, but Forbes said smaller consumer-driven businesses like restaurants are still seeing pain.

Dwight Dial, a farmer from Lake City, said trying to get by in this environment is tough. He installed a solar array in 2018, and he said the benefits from that investment are helping. “My purpose of sustainability is that I am able to farm next year, that I can financially keep going,” Dial emphasized. “And the solar unit has made it feasible.” Dial said his operation’s energy costs have gone down considerably in a roller-coaster year for Iowa farmers. But he’s still waiting on state reimbursement for his solar purchase, and he said getting that would help pay off the initial investment, bringing more stability.

Those calling for changes say increasing the cap to $10 million not only helps those on the list, it would encourage others to take advantage, creating more demand for the solar industry.

Crop insurance helped ease pain of derecho damage


November 23rd, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Iowa Insurance Division recently reported more than one-point-six billion dollars was paid out for claims of damage from the August 10th derecho, which includes more than 70-million dollars just for crop damage. Iowa Corn Growers Association president Carl Jardon says his property near Randolph in far southwest Iowa fared well during the powerful storm, but many hundreds of others were severely impacted. “I was far enough south, I did not get the storm damage but I sure feel bad for our friends and relatives that had to go through that, combining young corn and junk out in the middle of their fields,” Jardon says, “just a terrible situation.”

The derecho, he says, is a clear example of how critical it is for producers to have risk management and a solid crop insurance program. “It really showed through this year,” Jardon says. “That was one of our policy priorities, to protect crop insurance. So, yeah, that really came through this year.” He notes multiple other types of insurance became very important given the derecho’s devastation. “Not only the crop insurance but have insurance on your buildings and your facilities, so yeah, it all comes through this year,” he says.

While more than 200-thousand insurance claims were filed on derecho-related damage, Iowa Insurance Division officials say they got fewer than 100 complaints.

Deere to add 5G tech at factories in four Iowa counties


November 23rd, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer is integrating fifth-generation technology — or 5-G — broadband cellular networks into many of its facilities. Quad Cities-based John Deere won an auction from the Federal Communications Commission last week to implement 5-G in its production lines. Craig Sutton, who’s runs Deere’s manufacturing innovation, says 5-G will allow the company to expand past previous limitations.  “That is kind of the future of manufacturing. We’re very excited about it,” Sutton says. “We want to change the mindset that manufacturing’s the old, dirty smokestacks and the dingy areas. It’s a really cool environment.”

Sutton says automation won’t take workers’ jobs, but it will make them easier. “We can make quicker and better decisions,” he says. “We can move people to the right positions. We can predict machine failures. We can stay in front of any machine that might be having a performance issue. We actually see things like automation as a way to augment work, and then let the people, the highly-skilled people, do the work that they’re skilled at doing.”

Deere is laying the groundwork to switch to 5G next year with a complete rollout expected within 12-14 months. The tech will be implemented at Deere facilities in four Iowa counties — Black Hawk, Dubuque, Polk and Scott — as well as Rock Island County, Illinois.

Commercial Pesticide Applicators Encouraged to Pre-Register for Continuing Education Courses


November 20th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Atlantic) – The Cass County Extension office will again host continuing instructional courses (CICs) for local commercial pesticide applicators this year, but applicators are strongly encouraged to pre-register to ensure admittance on the day of a scheduled show, or when scheduling a re-show. To maintain 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. Scheduled dates and pre-registration forms can be found online at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/psep/. Applicators needing additional options for no-contact re-shows are asked to call the Extension Office ASAP for information on available formats. As a reminder, all CIC training must be completed by the end of December to keep a license current. To avoid conflicts with year-end scheduling, Cass County Extension will be requiring that all training dates be scheduled by Friday, December 18th.

Kate Olson, Cass County Extension Director, says “We know year end is a busy time for all, and we don’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to attend their annual required training, especially with unique circumstances this year requiring additional safety protocols. We do offer trainings on a first-come, first-serve basis, and our hours will be slightly different as we head into the holidays, so we’d like to remind folks to call and get their classes scheduled before our year-end calendar fills up!”

According to Olson, reshow dates can occur after December 18th, as scheduling allows, but they must be on the calendar before then to be honored. 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 reshow time if they have a preferred training date, but no later than Friday, December 18th. Applicators calling after this date will NOT be placed on the training schedule.

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 lander@iastate.edu. For more information on the Commercial Pesticide Applicator program or the CIC classes, please visit www.extension.iastate.edu/psep/ComAp.html.

Virtual Outdoor Cooking Offered by Shelby County Conservation

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 19th, 2020 by Jim Field

The Shelby County Conservation Board and Iowa DNR will be hosting a series of outdoor cooking classes over the next few months.  All classes will be done through Zoom.  They will all be about breakfast foods and begin at 9:00 a.m.  The class on December 12 will be over the fire recipes that don’t require any special equipment.  The class on January 16 will be about sandwich makers/pie irons.  The class on February 6 will be on Dutch ovens.  Participants are encouraged to cook along with the presenters and interact with the presenters.  Ingredient lists and any prep work instructions will be sent out prior to class.  Preregistration is required.  Links for registration can be found on the Iowa Becoming an Outdoors Women Facebook Page or Shelby County Conservation Board Facebook Page.  Everybody is welcome to attend (not just women).  If you have any questions, contact Christina Roelofs at 712-744-3403.

December 12 – https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/163784

Direct link to register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_2LPHteknTMG726o71l4rkQ

January 16 – https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/163785

Direct link to register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_yShGduFHRkimdEJUwjBNyg

February 6 – https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/163786

Direct link to register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RmvKhiSIRQOCutMpVh-MQg

Lawsuit: Tyson/Waterloo managers placed bets on workers catching COVID

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 19th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A lawsuit related to the Covid outbreak at a Tyson meatpacking plant in Waterloo alleges managers and supervisors placed cash bets on how many workers would contract the virus. The Iowa Capital Dispatch was first to report on the allegations in a lawsuit filed by the family of a plant employee who died of the coronavirus in late April. The plant’s manager is accused of running the winner-take-all betting pool on how many workers would get Covid. Another upper-level manager is also named in the lawsuit and accused of telling employees Covid-19 was “not a big deal” and was basically a “glorified flu.”

The lawsuit alleges top managers at the Waterloo plant shifted their responsibilities to lower-level employees so they could avoid the plant floor this spring as the virus spread among workers. Tyson issued a written statement, saying it will not comment on the specific allegations outlined in the lawsuit. The company says it has taken protective measures at all Tyson plants that exceed federal guidelines for working in close quarters during the pandemic.

Atlantic Yard Waste Site reopens…for now

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 19th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic’s Yard Waste site is once again open. It was closed Wednesday due to high winds and low humidity that could have increased the risk of a large fire. The yard waste site will remain open during normal hours of operations, as long as the winds don’t create a repeat of the problem experienced Wednesday. Officials remind users also, the City’s Yard Waste Site is for Atlantic residents only. “Please be respectful of that,” they said, “So that it does not get overloaded.”