How an Iowa hog baron accrued power and built a CAFO empire that transformed his state

"Since Iowa Select Farms was founded in 1992, the state’s pig population has increased more than 50 percent — while the number of farms raising hogs has declined over 80 percent," as Charlie Mitchell and Austin Frerick explain in FERN's latest story, published with Vox. "In the last 30 years, 26,000 Iowa farms quit the long-standing tradition of raising pigs. As confinements replaced them, rural communities have continued to hollow out." (No paywall)

Farmers are worried about climate change but skeptical of carbon markets — survey

Farmers in the largest corn-growing state are increasingly concerned about the potential impact of climate change on their operations but also dubious of carbon markets that would pay them to sequester carbon in the soil, according to the annual Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll. Their skepticism stood in contrast to President Biden's goal of creating new sources of revenue for farmers while his administration pushes American agriculture to be the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases.

Tyson Foods fires seven in Covid betting pool

Tyson Foods said on Wednesday that it had fired seven management employees at its hog slaughter plant in Waterloo, Iowa, following allegations that plant manager Tom Hart had organized a betting pool over how many of the plant's employees would become ill with Covid-19.

Farmland values rise despite turbulent year

The average acre of farmland in Iowa, the top corn-growing state, is worth $7,559, an increase of 1.7 percent from 2019, despite the effects of the pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown, said Iowa State University on Tuesday. It was the second year in a row of modest increases but land values remain $1,157 below their 2013 peak hit during the commodity boom.

Tyson orders investigation of ‘betting on Covid’ allegations

Former attorney general Eric Holder will lead an independent investigation into allegations that managers of a Tyson Foods hog plant in Waterloo, Iowa, ran a betting pool on how many employees would become ill with Covid-19, said the meat processor on Thursday.

Coronavirus infection ends Grassley’s 27-year voting streak

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday that he was quarantining himself at home while awaiting results of a test for Covid-19. The quarantine ended a 27-year streak, dating voting in every Senate roll call — a record 8,927 in all — since 1993.

Trump runs in rural America on ethanol, tax cuts, regulatory relief

President Trump is ending his re-election campaign in rural America on the same issues that boosted him in 2016: Promises of tax cuts, fewer federal regulations and support for corn ethanol. In addition, farmers are wealthy from $23 billion in trade-war payments, said Trump in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sunday; "That's why you're all here and you're all happy."

Trump wrong on wind, just like ethanol, say Iowa Democrats

Despite his visits to Iowa, President Trump “seems to be out of touch with what really matters out in the countryside,” said Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary in the Obama era, on Monday. Vilsack was part of a line-up of Iowa Democrats to criticize Trump for his opposition to wind …

Iowa leans for Greenfield over Ernst in Senate race

Iowans have not defeated a Senate incumbent since 1984 but Democrat Theresa Greenfield could break that streak in her challenge to Republican Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Tuesday. The political newsletter said the race “leans …