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USDA Annouces 11 Iowa Counties as Secretarial Designation

(Des Moines) -- Iowa State Executive Director for USDA Farm Service Agency, John Whitaker, announcec that the U-S Department of Agriculture has designated eleven Iowa counties as part of a Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation.  Farm operators who have suffered major production and/or physical losses caused by drought beginning July 31, 2012 and continuing may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans.

A Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation has been issued for four Iowa counties as the primary disaster area.  These primary counties are: Lyon, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury.  Seven Iowa counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for program based on this designation.  The contiguous counties are: Cherokee, Crawford, Ida, Monona, O'Brien, and Osceola.  Harrison county is contiguous to a primary county in Nebraska.

The Farm Service Agency may make Emergency Loans to eligible family farmers which will enable them to return to their normal operations if they sustained qualifying losses resulting from natural disaster.  Physical loss loans may be made to eligible farmers to enable them to repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property, including livestock losses, essential to the success of the farming operation.  Examples of property commonly affected include; essential farm buildings, fixtures to real estate, equipment, livestock, perennial crops, fruit and nut bearing trees, and harvested or stored crops.  For production loss loans, the disaster yield must be at least 30 percent below the normal production yield of the crop, on a crop or a crop or crops that make up a basic part of the total farming operation.

Applicant must be unable to obtain credit from other usual sources to qualify for the Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Program assistance.  The interest rate for emergency loans is 2.25%.  Each applicant applying for credit will be given equal consideration without regard to race, creed, color, marital status, or national origin.

The repayment for most disaster loans are based on the useful life of the security, the applicant's repayment ability, and the type of loss.  If the loan is secured only on crops, it must be repaid when the next crop year's income is received.  Loans to replace fixtures to real estate may be scheduled for repayment for up to 40 years.

The final date for making application under this designation is April 8, 2013.  Interested farmers may contact their local County FSA office for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.  Information can also be found on-line at



AGP Hires New CEO

(Omaha) -- The Board of Directors of Ag Processing Inc. (AGP) announced today that is has named Keith Spackler as its Chief Executive Officer and General Manager effective September 1, 2012.  Spackler, who currently serves as the cooperative's Chief Financial Officer and Group Vice President, will succeed Marty Reagan who announced his plans to retire earlier this year. 

"Keith Spackler is a seasoned professional in agribusiness," said Brad Davis, Chairman of the Board.  "His indepth knowledge of AGP and its business operations will serve him well in his new role.  We are confident that under Keith's leadership, AGP will continue to fulfill its committment to serve our cooperative members and their producer-owners."

"At AGP, building on the existing strengths, while creating and capturing new opportunities has resulted in a great history of success," said Spackler.  "I look forward to working witih the Board, management team and employees as we work together in continuing the planned growth, development and success of this cooperative."

Spackler is a native of Clinton, Missouri where he grew up on a dairy and row crop farm.  He holds a B.S. and a M.S. degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri at Columbia, Missouri, and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Prior to joining AGP, Spackler  served as an economic analystt for Far-Mar-Co a subsidiary of Farmland Industries.  He joined AGP in 1985 as Manager of Business Analysis and over the past 27 years, he has served in various positions of leadership at the cooperative.

AGP ( is the largest farmer-owned cooperative soybean processor in the world, and is owned by 180 local and regional cooperatives representing over 200,000 farmers from 16 states.  AGP operates soybean processing facilities at Sheldon, Sgt. Bluff, and Emmetsburg.  AGP also operates a bio-diesel manufacturing plant at Sgt. Bluff.


USDA Issues First Crop Report

ST. LOUIS (AP) - The federal government says U.S. corn growers could end up with their lowest average yield in 17 years as the drought continues to take its toll.
     The U.S. Agriculture Department is slashing its projected U.S. corn production to 10.8 billion bushels. That's down from its forecast last month of close to 13 billion bushels and 13 percent
lower than last year. That also would be the lowest production since 2006.
     The USDA says it expects corn growers to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year. That would be the lowest average yield since 1995.
     Soybean production is now forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, a 12 percent decline from last year. Expected yields on average of 36.1 bushels per acre would be the lowest since 2003.


Northwest Iowa Counties Added To Drought Disaster Declaration List

(Washington) -- The U-S Department of Agriculture has added four more Iowa counties to the drought disaster declaration list.  Those counties include: Woodbury, Lyon, Sioux, and Plymouth.  Farmers have the opportunity to qualify for disaster assistance and low interest loans.

Woodbury County Conservation To Accept Bids For Haying Grasslands

(Sioux City) -- The Woodbury County Conservation Board announced that it will accept competitive signed bids to hay multiple parcels of county grassland located in several conservation areas.  The total acreage open to haying represents no more than 200 acres and less than four percent of the public lands managed by the Conservation Board.  Bids will be accepted for individual areas ranging from 13 to 110 acres and must be submitted to the Dorthy Pecaut Nature Center by 3:00 p.m. Friday, August 17th.  Federal disaster guidelines for haying will be in effect, and maps of specific parcels open to haying will be provided to the successful bidders.  Executive Director Rick Schneider says that the haying must be completed by August 31st and all bales removed from county lands by September 15th.

Drought Worsens

  ST. LOUIS (AP) - The latest U.S. drought map shows conditions getting worse in Iowa and Nebraska.
     The area of Iowa in extreme or exceptional drought -- the two worst categories -- has more than doubled, from about 31 percent last week to more than 69 percent as of Tuesday. More than 91
percent of Nebraska is in the two worst categories.
     The weekly map shows the amount of the U.S. mired in drought conditions dropped a little more than 1 percentage point, to just over 78 percent. But the area in the worst drought classifications has risen nearly 2 percentage points to more than 24 percent.
     That's because key farm states didn't get as much benefit from rains as elsewhere on the heels of hot July temperatures that federal scientists say broke a record set during the Dust Bowl of
the 1930s.

Crop Analysist Anticipates Negative Crop Report

(Ames) -- Due to the severity of the summer drought, all eyes will be focused on the first initial crop production report to be issued Friday morning by the U-S Department of Agriculture.  Farmers and commodity traders alike, are interested in knowing what will be the production yield numbers released by the USDA.  Chad Hart is an agricultural economist with Iowa State University and he serves as the grain marketing specialist.  Hart says analysists are expecting the corn yield to average 127 bushels per acre and the soybean yield to average 35 bushels per acre.  He says any numbers that are not close to that prediction will significantly affect the grain market prices.
 Hart says export markets have been watching the drought very closely.  He says South America may be able to benefit from the high commodity prices and possibly take over some of the United States' markets.  The ISU ag economist says Friday's report will be gigantic since it is the first official objective look at this year's crop. 



Farmers Can Harvest CRP and WRP

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that farmers that have Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) lands available for harvesting, can now be included in the Iowa hay and straw directory.  The change is in response to the USDA announcement that both of these programs can now be used for haying and grazing in response to the drought conditions.


“The drought has severely impacted the amount of forage available, so it is good news that USDA has made CRP and WRP lands available for emergency haying and grazing.  We hope the directory helps connect farmers that have CRP or WRP lands with those that have livestock and need the feed,” Northey said.  “It is important that any farmer interested in the emergency haying program should contact their local FSA or NRCS office before proceeding.”


The authorization for haying and grazing of CRP and WRP became effective today, August 2nd and haying activities must be completed by August 31, 2012. For more information on haying CRP land farmers can contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office or visit FSA online at  For information on haying WRP land farmers can contact their local USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office or visit


In additional to listing farmers with CRP or WRP lands available, the Iowa Hay and Straw Directory lists producers with hay and straw for sale, as well as organizations and businesses associated with promoting and marketing quality hay and straw.


Farmers interested in listing should visit the Department’s website at  An application form can be found by going to the “Home Page” and then clicking on the Marketing tab on the top of the page”  and then selecting  Hay and Straw in the right hand column.  This will take you directly to the Hay & Straw Directory.


For those without internet access, please call the Hay/Straw Hotline at 800-383-5079.  The Department will fax or send a printed copy of the application to be filled out.



Northey Visits Marcus, Remsen

(Remsen) -- Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey made a stop in both Marcus and Remsen on Monday.  Northey, a farmer from Spirit Lake, says this summer's drought has similarities to the 1988 drought. He says several regions of the state are suffering, particularly east-central Iowa.


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However, he also says their are some pockets within the state that have not been adversely affected by the dry conditions.


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Northey says most of the government sponsored disaster programs are coordinated at the federal level, but he says the state department of agriculture are standing by to help.


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The state secretary of agriculture toured both the Little Sioux Corn Processors in Marcus and he visited the Remsen Processing in Remsen.  Iowa's corn crop has deteriorated further with 40 percent now in very poor or poor condition. A week ago it was 27 percent.

The USDA says it has received reports of farmers chopping down their corn.

Just 23 percent of the crop is in good to excellent condition down from 36 percent a week earlier.

For Iowa soybeans 30 percent are now in very poor or poor condition. It was 20 percent a week ago. Just 28 percent of the crop is in good or excellent condition down from 38 percent a week ago.

Nationally, 45 percent of the corn crop is very poor or poor.  Last week it was 38 percent.

For soybeans, 35 percent is now poor or very poor compared with the 30 percent a week earlier.


Ag Economist Concern About Next Year

Ag Economist Concerned About Next Year

(Ames) -- Although grain prices are spiking as a result of the drought, a retired agricultural economist believes this year's drought may have additional consequences into next year.  Robert Wisner with Iowa State University says that South America also suffered a drought this past growing season, and he says along with the U-S drought, farmers in both regions will be tempted to plant every available acre next year, which may cause a steep decline in commodity prices.
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Wisner says as a result of the drought, consumers will begin seeing higher prices at the supermarket; first with milk, then with poultry, and finally with red meat products like beef and pork.
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Wisner says in the short-term, there may be bargains with poultry and red-meat products as farmers flood the market selling their stock, but in the long-term, meat may be in short supply.


Pork Producers Worried About High Grain Prices

Local Pork Producer Worried About High Grain Prices


(Le Mars) -- With corn selling at more than $7.00 a bushel and soybeans at more than $16.00 a bushel, and with expectations for even higher prices as the nation's drought worsens, livestock producers, and especially swine and poultry producers are worried about the rising price of grain.  Bill Tentinger is a pork producer from Le Mars.  He also serves as the president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. He spoke on behalf of the state's pork producers during a drought meeting held Tuesday and hosted by Governor Terry Branstad.  Tentinger says there are many pork producers that are quitting the business because grain prices are too costly.

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The Plymouth County pork producer says he offered a message to Governor Branstad.

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Tentinger says he isn't certain if packers are already loaded with culled sows, or if the packer knows that more will come, and they are waiting for the market price to fall.


Farmers Discuss Drought

(Le Mars) -- More than 300 concerned farmers attended a drought meeting on Thursday hosted by the Plymouth County Extension Services.  Each, with probably the same question on their minds, "What options do I have with my crop as a result of this ongoing drought?" Many farmers are wondering if chopping the corn for silage would be economical, feasible and safe.

Both Joel DeJong, Extension Crops Specialist, and Beth Doran, Extension Livestock and Forage Specialist, suggested to the farmers they need to test their corn for nitrates before chopping it for silage.  De Jong also stressed to wait before cutting the corn to make certain the moisture percentage is at the right level.  DeJong says a common mistake made by farmers during drought conditions is believing the corn is drier than the actual moisture level.  He told the group that cut silage should be between 65 and 70 percent moisture if the silage is stored in either a bunker or an ag bag.  Silage stored in an upright silo should be of at least 60 to 65 percent moisture.  Both Doran and DeJong warned farmers of how silage seepage can be a danger to fish in local ponds.  Doran also cautioned farmers if they have a farm pond to check it for algae.  She says if cattle drink from the pond with algae, it could prove to be deadly.  She was also asked by a cattle
producer how long should a farmer wait before feeding green cut silage to cattle  Her reply was, "three weeks."

Agricultural economist, Dr. William Edwards appeared via a web cam from Ames. He told farmers they need to visit with their crop insurance agent, and they should do so in the near future.  Edwards offered a series of scenerios as to how much revenue return farmers could expect based on their yield loss and the average price per bushel.


Northey Plans Northwest Iowa Visits

(Des Moines) -- Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has announced that he will be visiting Ida, Cherokee, Sioux and Plymouth Counties on Monday, July 23rd as part of his efforts to visit each of Iowa's 99 counties  again in 2012.  Northey will visit the Ida County Fair in Ida Grove at 10:30 a.m., then he will tour Little Sioux Corn Processing in Marcus at 12:30 p.m.  Northey is scheduled to tour Van Beek Natural Science in Orange City at 2:00 p.m.  and then he will visit the Remsen Processing in Remsen at 3:30 p.m.  All events are open to the public.


Crop Conditions Continue to Worsen

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Not since 1988... that's the phrase that is being heard by farmers as they describe the current hot and dry conditions as it is taking a  toll on Iowa crops. The condition of corn and soybeans continues to decline.  1988 was the last time Iowa suffered a major state-wide drought.
     The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in Monday's weekly report that only 46 percent of the corn is in good to excellent shape. That's the lowest level for the first week of July since 1993. A week ago, it was 62 percent.
     Forty-eight percent of soybeans are in good to excellent condition, down from 59 percent last week.
     The USDA says 88 percent of topsoil moisture and 82 percent of subsoil moisture are short or very short.  Roger Elmore serves as the corn specialist for Iowa State University.  He says farmers have probably already lost nine percent of the yield potential.

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Mark Licht is an extension agronomist with Iowa State University.  He says farmers can calculate the amount of lost yield by adding up the number of hours corn leaves are rolled.

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Iowa had 100-plus temperatures from Wednesday through Saturday.  The highest temps so far this year were on Saturday with eight communities reaching 105 degrees. There was no widespread rain.


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