EPA issues emergency waiver for summertime sale of E15
For the second year in a row, the EPA said it would waive air pollution rules and permit summertime sale of E15 — gasoline with a 15 percent mix of ethanol — on an emergency basis, even though fuel prices are roughly 57 cents a gallon lower than they were a year ago.
Carbon pipelines’ fate still uncertain in Iowa
An Iowa House bill that would restrict the use of eminent domain for carbon capture pipelines in the state is effectively dead until the next session, in 2024, after the Senate late last month failed to advance it ahead of a legislative deadline. That leaves the issue for now with the Iowa Utilities Board, which can rule on eminent domain requests.
Iowa farmland values skyrocket, again
High commodity prices and low interest rates helped drive farmland values in Iowa to an average of $11,411 an acre, up 17 percent from 2021, when they rose 29 percent, said Iowa State University’s annual Land Value Survey.
CO2 pipeline company plays hardball as Iowa counties fight back
In Iowa, deep-pocketed corporations are hoping to build carbon dioxide pipelines across hundreds of miles of farmland. But county governments are putting the brakes on development by passing ordinances to protect people in the pipelines' path. In response, Summit Carbon Solutions, the company farthest along in the state's permitting process, is punching back, filing federal lawsuits to overturn the ordinances and forcing counties to spend scarce taxpayer dollars to defend themselves. (No paywall)
Two Democrats on House Agriculture facing uphill fights
Two Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee, Reps. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona and Cindy Axne of Iowa, are in uphill fights for re-election against Republicans, according to political handicapper Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
Second company seeks Iowa permit to build a carbon capture pipeline
A Texas-based company filed for a permit with the Iowa Utilities Board on Tuesday to build a 900-mile pipeline across the state to transport liquefied carbon dioxide, collected from the smokestacks of ethanol refineries, to Illinois, where it would be sequestered underground.
U.S. corn and soy crops wilt during hot and dry summer
The drought-hit corn and soybean crops are smaller than expected, said the government on Monday, slicing 451 million bushels from its estimate of the corn harvest and 152 million bushels from its soybean forecast. The revisions reduced this year's crops to also-rans instead of contenders for the record books.
Fewer hog farms, but far more hogs per farm
In the space of a generation, U.S. hog production has transformed, even if the Midwest, with Iowa foremost, is still the leader, said a new USDA report. There were half as many hog farms in the country in 2017 as there were in 1997, and the largest farms, often specialized operations, raised 93 percent of the pigs.
Judge orders Iowa agency to release list of landowners in pipeline path
An Iowa District Court judge ruled Monday that the Iowa Utilities Board must make the list of landowners likely to be affected by the Summit Carbon Solutions carbon dioxide pipeline available to the public within 14 days.
Carbon pipelines face continued resistance in Iowa
A group of farmers and climate change activists attended the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) meeting in Des Moines last week and demanded the board vote against using eminent domain to acquire land for several proposed carbon pipeline projects.
Are Iowa’s proposed CO2 pipelines a legitimate climate mitigation tool?
Iowa environmentalists say the plan to build three pipelines to move liquified carbon dioxide — collected from the smokestacks of ethanol refineries — to North Dakota and Illinois, where the carbon would be pumped underground, will simply prop up the fossil fuel industry and shower their agribusiness investors with tax credits.
Report: Iowa’s hyper-consolidated hog industry drives income inequality
The increasing dominance of large factory farms in Iowa means hog farmers earn $2 less per pound of pork than they did 40 years ago, when the state had many more smaller farms, according to a new report by the nonprofit advocacy group Food & Water Watch.
USDA pays $146 million in bird flu indemnities
As bird flu losses topped 35 million fowl, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday that the USDA has paid about $146 million in indemnities to poultry owners, with an additional $263 million available. “That’s about half of where we were in 2014-2015 with the last outbreak,” he said.
With emergency SNAP benefits ending, a ‘hunger cliff’ looms
"Anti-hunger advocates worry that the nation may be approaching a 'hunger cliff,' as some states are ending emergency SNAP benefits even as demand at food pantries—and Covid case numbers—are rising again," writes Bridget Huber in FERN's latest story.
White House starts ‘rural infrastructure tour’ loaded with dollar signs
President Biden launched a "rural infrastructure tour" on Monday to deliver billions of dollars in funding for rural America with senior officials visiting 30 communities in April. "These generational infrastructure investments will provide rural communities across America affordable high-speed internet, clean drinking water, reliable electricity, better roads and bridges and good-paying jobs," said the president.
Egg prices spike as bird flu outbreaks reach two-month mark
Americans will not run out of eggs in the ongoing outbreak of bird flu, the worst since 2015, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Four percent of the U.S. layer flock has died in the two months since the first confirmation of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) on Feb. 8.
Minnesota loses 1 million turkeys in bird flu outbreaks
Turkey farmers in Minnesota, the No. 1 turkey-producing state, lost more than 557,000 turkeys in 12 outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) this week, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. Total losses since the first outbreak was reported on March 25 are slightly over 1 million turkeys.
Easter egg supply jeopardized amid bird flu surge
In three weeks, outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have killed more than 4 percent of the egg-laying chickens in America. "Egg availability may be limited leading into Easter," traditionally a high-demand period for eggs, said analysts at rural lender CoBank.