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Local Ag News

Despite Wet Conditions, Planting Ahead Of Pace

(Des Moines) -- The latest weekly crop condition report from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship shows 96 percent of the state's corn crop has been planted, which is two days ahead of last year, and six days ahead of the five-year average.  75 percent of that planted corn has emerged, which is on pace from last year, but four days ahead of normal.  As for soybean planting, the report shows 74 percent of the soybean crop has been planted with nearly 21 percent having already emerged.  Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says "many farmers were able to make good progress last week, but now may be again a bit delayed with additional wet weather across the entire state."  Northey says farmers will be anxious to finish their planting.   As for the condition of the crop, four percent of the corn is listed as poor to very poor. 23 percent of the corn crop is in fair condition, 62 percent is good, and 11 percent of the corn crop is listed as being in excellent condition.

 

   

Pork Producers Encouraged To Attend World Pork Expo

(Des Moines) -- In a matter of a couple of weeks, 20,000 pork producers from around the globe will convene at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines to attend the World Pork Expo.  The World Pork Expo is an annual event that features an industry trade show, junior hog judging contests, and educational seminars.  Cindy Cunningham serves as the Assistant Vice President of the National Pork Board.  She says World Pork Expo is an excellent opportunity for pork producers to gather and network with industry officials, and with other pork producers to discuss common issues impacting the pork industry.

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Cunningham says this year's World Pork Expo will cover some of the new regulations that are soon coming that deal with antibiotics vaccinations and medications.

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The pork board official says World Pork Expo offers many organizations and companies the chance to host a hospitality tent.  She says pork producers are welcomed to attend the National Pork Board's hospitality tent for some great tasting bacon products, and to learn and discuss issues with other producers.

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This year's World Pork Expo is scheduled for June 8th, 9th, and 10th.

 

   

Wet, Saturated Fields May Force Farmers To Re-plant

(Spencer) -- In the latest weekly crop condition report, more than half of the state's corn crop has been planted.  However, after several days of rain and cooler temperatures, some agronomists believe that some farmers may be forced to re-plant some of those fields.  Iowa State University Extension Crops Specialist Paul Kassel says there a several fields that are saturated and under water.

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Kassel is based at Clay county in Spencer.  He says a vast majority of the fields in his area are under water.

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It is always advised to plant early to insure a full-season growing potential with the highest yields for corn, and corn planted after May 5th has been a date usually associated when corn yields begin to taper off, but Kassel doesn't believe farmers will see much of a yield loss, unless the wet conditions continue through past mid-May.

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Kassel suggests farmers to use patience before rushing back into the fields.  He says after the soggy conditions, it would be easy to have soil compaction which ultimately would prove to be even a worst scenario.

 

 

 

   

Soil And Water Conservation Week Observed

(Le Mars) -- Each year, the equivilant of a dump truck filled with soil, or about five tons of topsoil is lost on each acre of Iowa farmground due to either wind or water erosion.  This week is recognized as Soil and Water Conservation week as proclaimed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.  John Vogel a conservationist with the Plymouth County Soil and Water Conservation district office says soil erosion has been a concern for farmers, landowners, and conservationists since the Great Dust Bowl era in the 1930's.  He talks about how much soil is lost in Iowa each year due to erosion.

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Vogel says many farmers have implemented various types of conservation practices that have helped protect the soil and reduce erosion.

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Vogel says cover crops offer several benefits, not only do they help protect the soil from eroding, but cover crops also help replenish the soil with valuable nutrients, and cover crops act as a buffer or filter to reduce nitrate runoff into our waterways.

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Other conservation methods include grass waterways to help channel running water and buffer zones near streams and creeks to help filter soil sediment and nitrates from entering our waterways.

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Vogel says both the state and federal governments offer several cost-share programs to assist landowners and farmers to implement conservation practices.  Last year, many people may recall Governor Branstad had proclaimed this week as Soil and Water Conservation Week while visiting the Bob and Lisa Puetz farm located east of Le Mars.  At that time, Branstad was given a tour of the Puetz farm and shown different conservation practices and was informed about the Deep Creek Watershed Project that is educating farmers and landowners about the benefits of protecting the soil and the water.

 

   

Are Soil Conditions Right For Field Work?

(Le Mars) -- The calendar says it is time to be doing field work.  However, the soil conditions remain a little cool. So, should farmers be concerned?  Iowa State University Extension Crops Specialist for Northwest Iowa Joel DeJong says despite the cooler temperatures, soil conditions are showing signs of being ready.

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Ideally, soil temperatures should be at least 50 degrees before planting takes place. DeJong says the four-inch soil temperatures are currently in the low 40's, but he says the ten-day weather forecast is favorable.

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Many farmers are still applying anhydrous ammonia for their fertilizer needs, and DeJong says conditions are still favorable, if farmers make certain they are applying that anhydrous ammonia at deep enough levels.

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DeJong says southern Iowa farmers have already started with their planting, but he says northern Iowa farmers may want to wait a few more days, even though research studies indicate better yields are obtained with early planted seed.

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The extension crops specialist says farmers still have plenty of time to plant their seed, and there is no reason to rush.

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State Officials Hope To Be Better Prepared For Bird Flu

(Des Moines) -- Nearly a year ago, the first outbreak of the Avian Bird Influenza was detected in an Iowa poultry operation.  Through the summer months, the deadly disease had spread and claimed nearly 30 million turkeys and chicken egg laying hens.  It was thought the deadly disease was transmitted in part by wildlife fowl during the migration.  Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is hopeful the avian bird flu will not strike the state's poultry industry this year, but if it should be detected, Northey says state agriculture officials are better prepared.

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Northey says one major change implemented will be the access poultry producers will have for state and federal agriculture officials in dealing with the problem.  He says officials should be able to act in a quicker manner to identify a potential infected farm, and to put down the birds, and control the spread of the disease.

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Since the outbreak of the bird flu last year, Northey says most of the state's poultry farms have been able to be back in production.  However, he says it may be a while before the poultry farms are back to full production as it takes some time to re-stock millions of lost birds.

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Pork Industry Continues To Expand

(Le Mars) -- The nation's pork industry continues to expand with announcements of new pork processing facilities to be built in Sioux City, Michigan, and this week Prestige Farms made the announcement to construct a new pork processing facility near Mason City, Iowa.  An Iowa State University livestock economist says the nation's hog numbers continue to increase.  Lee Schulz says pork production has set new inventory records for the last few years, and doesn't show signs of slowing down.

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Schulz says the added hog inventories will ultimately mean lower prices for producers and consumers as we will have an abundance of pork products.  He says the new processing facilities are strategically located to absorb the expansion within the pork industry.

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The Iowa State University livestock economist believes the only way for consumers to keep up with the loaded supplies is to see pork exports increase.

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On Friday, the U-S Department of Agriculture will issue its quarterly hogs and pigs report.  Schulz anticipates that report will show even more expansion in the pork industry.

   

Northey Comments About National Ag Week

(Le Mars) -- One farmer produces enough food to feed more than 144 people. This is National Agriculture Week, a time when we honor the nation's farmers and everyone involved with agriculture and who is responsible for bringing food to our table.  Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says Iowa agriculture is an amazing industry.

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Northey says agriculture has a bright future and he is encouraged to see so many young people getting involved with an agricultural career.

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The Iowa Agriculture Secretary says agriculture has a great story to tell, and farmers need to continually tell the story of agriculture through social media, and the general media.  Northey says people need to be reminded that our food is not necessarily produced by a large mega corporate entity, but by farm families who care about the quality of food that we consume everyday.

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Pork Forum Delegates Discuss HSUS Lawsuit

(Des Moines) -- Delegates of the National Pork Board met last week in Indianapolis, Indiana for the National Pork Forum.  The delegates of the National Pork Forum had an interesting meeting and according to Derrick Sleezer, a pork producer from Cherokee, Iowa and the current President of the National Pork Board, discussion focused on the popular promotional phrase "Pork, The Other White Meat".  Nearly every consumer has at one time or another heard that popular catch phrase, and Sleezer says the pork check-off, along with the branded marketing phrase is responsible for the increase of demand for pork products.  Back in 2006, when the National Pork Board split from the National Pork Producers Council, the pork board entered a contract with the pork producers council to purchase the rights to the phrase "Pork, The Other White Meat".

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Sleezer says the terms of the contract even met with the approval from the U-S-D-A, and for several years both sides were in agreement with the contract terms and payments had been made.  However, recently, the Humane Society of the United States or HSUS, has filed a federal lawsuit contesting that contractual agreement.

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The Cherokee, Iowa pork producer says the National Pork Board still holds the rights to the phrase "Pork. The Other White Meat".  But he says, if the Humane Society of the United States should win the lawsuit, it would be costly for pork producers, and the industry would need to start over.

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The U-S Department of Agriculture has subsequently entered into settlement discussions with the Humane Society of the United States, and the federal agency has withheld the approval of the annual payments between the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council.  The USDA also wants another valuation of the popular trademark and phrase.  At the recent National Pork Forum, delegates from each representative state signed an advisement telling Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to allow the original terms of the contract to proceed.

 

   

National FFA Week Is Being Observed

(Le Mars) -- This week is recognized as National F-F-A Week, a week when we honor the largest youth organization and those who wear the blue cordoroy jackets, but hold gold standards.  Once known as Future Farmers of America, the organization has evolved over the years, and changes have occurred, including the name of the organization. Michael Tupper of New Hampton, Iowa, currently serves as the president of the Iowa FFA.  He says F-F-A has expanded to involve all careers in agriculture, not just production agriculture.

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Tupper says F-F-A doesn't necessarily teach youth about agriculture, as much as it utilizes agriculture as a means to teach responsibility, leadership, public speaking skills, confidence and character. He says those are the traits that employers and companies desire, and are looking for in a future employee.

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The Iowa FFA president says he was encouraged to join FFA from his two older sisters who also were members.  But he says it was the contacts he made and the friends he met that kept him in FFA.

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Tupper says there is a special connection with FFA and our first United States president, George Washington, and that is why FFA Week falls on or around Washington's birthday.

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When FFA chapters hold official meetings, Tupper says they again recognize Washington's influence, especially when the treasurer explains why they stand next to the emblem of George Washington.

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There are three FFA chapters within Plymouth County. They include Le Mars Community High School, Akron-Westfield High School and Kingsley-Pierson High School.

 

   

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