Iowa

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.

Three percent of U.S. egg-laying flock lost to bird flu

Nearly 11.8 million egg-laying hens — three of every 100 in the U.S. flock — have died in outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in less than a month, USDA data released on Tuesday show. The latest losses were 1.46 million hens in Guthrie County in central Iowa.

First case of ‘high path’ bird flu west of the Mississippi

The lethal poultry disease highly pathogenic avian influenza has been identified in a backyard flock in Iowa, the No. 1 egg-producing state, said the Agriculture Department on Wednesday. It was the first case of “high path” bird flu west of the Mississippi River and the 17th found in domestic flocks this year.

Biggest rise in Midwest land values in over a decade

Agricultural bankers reported a 22 percent increase in farmland values in the central Corn Belt during 2021, and they expect values to continue to rise in the opening months of this year, said the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank on Thursday.

Iowa farmland value zoomed by 29 percent this year

Farmland in Iowa is worth an average $9,751 an acre – the highest value since Iowa State University began the annual survey in 1941. Values skyrocketed by 29 percent this year, fueled by high commodity prices, better than expected crop yields and large pandemic relief payments, said associate professor Wendong Zhang.

Surge in yields brings biggest U.S. soybean crop ever

The U.S. soybean hit parade, with record production in 2016, 2017, and 2018, will continue this year with the largest crop ever, the government forecast on Tuesday with the harvest in full swing. A late-summer surge in likely yields per acre prompted the USDA to say the crop will be 2 percent larger than its previous estimate.

Genius grant for prof. who created prairie strips to reduce farm runoff

Iowa State University professor Lisa Schulte Moore, a creator of  prairie strips in farm fields to markedly reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss, won a $625,000 MacArthur Foundation genius grant on Tuesday. Schulte Moore, one of 25 winners announced by the foundation, was described as a …

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