agriculture

courtesy Iowans for Sam Clovis

As President Donald Trump continues to fill political appointments, his nomination for the top science job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is raising unique concerns.

Trump has chosen Iowan Sam Clovis to be undersecretary of agriculture for research, education and economics. Clovis served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force, has a doctorate in public administration, and taught economics at Morningside College in Sioux City.

Sioux City is also where he gained a following as a conservative talk show host.

Photo courtesy of Black Valley Films

The Iowa State Fair is known worldwide as a showcase for all things food-related. This year, that includes a new documentary about a controversial topic: genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Food Evolution was commissioned by the non-profit, International Food Technologists and it seeks to "follow the science" to get the truth about GMOs. The science led the filmmakers to produce something that comes down squarely in favor of what they say is a technique that's misunderstood and often vilified.

During the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, spectators will turn their eyes upward to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

But many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras to the plants and animals here on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

Amy Mayer/IPR

The dairy show at the Iowa State Fair continues into Saturday and cows are milked throughout each day. All the milk collected this year at the fair will be dumped.

In years past, milk collected from dairy cows during the state fair was sold to a Des Moines area co-op for production into cheese. But this year, the longstanding buyer backed out and no one else stepped up.

Image courtesy of Boomsbeat

The Iowa State Fair is the state's signature annual event, attracting over one million visitors in each of the last two years, according to its website. Some of the fair's most notable events are the vegetable, fruit, and flower competitions; the winners of which receive the coveted blue ribbon. Iowa State University Extension Horticulturist Richard Jauron, who judges the competitions, explains what he and the other judges look for when it comes to blue ribbon quality fruits and vegetables.

TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL oil pipeline, is scheduled to go before the Nebraska Public Service Commission next week, the final hurdle before the agency decides whether the pipeline’s path should be approved.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Chemical runoff from Midwest farm fields is contributing to the largest so-called dead zone on record in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Scientists have mapped the size of the oxygen-deprived region in the Gulf since 1985. This year’s is estimated at more than 8,700 square miles, which is about the size of New Jersey.

 

Of all the expensive machinery Tom Giessel worked during the 2017 wheat harvest, his favorite sits in the office of his home.

It’s a microfilm machine, the kind found in a high school library. Giessel uses it for his work as the historian of the National Farmers Union, the nation’s second-largest farm group.

Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association

Members of the All-Iowa Ag Trade Mission to China report getting a good reception from Chinese officials, and they say Gov. Branstad’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China has raised Iowa’s profile with Chinese leaders.   

Gov. Kim Reynolds is leading the 35-member delegation representing all major Iowa commodity groups. 

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the Branstad appointment has raised the profile of Iowa in China when compared to previous trade missions.

Amy Mayer/IPR

 

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

Alex Hanson/flickr

President Trump today nominated former Morningside College professor  and Sioux City radio talk show host Sam Clovis to the top science position at the United States Department of Agriculture.     

Appointees to Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics have traditionally held advanced degrees in science or medicine.   

Clovis holds an undergraduate degree in political science, an MBA, and a doctorate in public administration.    

He was an advisor to President Trump’s Iowa campaign, and has been an advisor at the USDA since January.        

Mad Cow Disease Detected In Alabama

Jul 18, 2017

A case of mad cow disease has been found in a cow in Alabama.

U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists confirmed Tuesday that an 11-year-old cow found in an Alabama livestock market suffered from the neurologic cattle disease, formally called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The animal “at no time presented a risk to the food supply, or to human health in the United States,” according to the USDA.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

This summer's hot weather could bring down soybean yields for some farmers.

Iowa State University extension is alerting farmers that hot, dry conditions are what the disease charcoal rot waits for. Daren Mueller, an ISU extension plant pathologist, says once it attacks, there's little a farmer can do.

"At this point it's more of trying to scout and figure out what fields would have that pathogen in it to make decisions in future years," he says, "the next time you planted soybeans."

See a bee; hear a buzz.

That is what researchers studying the declining bee population are banking on. A new technique based on recording buzzing bees hopes to show farmers just how much pollinating the native bee population is doing in their fields.  

Vegetable and fruit growers depend on pollinators to do a lot of work in their greenhouses and fields. Pollinators, like bees, flutter about the blossoms on plants and orchard trees, transferring pollen from plant to plant and ensuring that those organisms have a chance at reproducing.

Linn County Fair

New signs are going up at county fairs across the state warning of the possibility of infections, including e-coli, as part of a new state law protecting fairs from lawsuits.   

The law absolves fair boards from liability if they properly advise fairgoers to wash their hands after touching animals in livestock exhibits and take other precautions to prevent infection.    

WIKICOMMONS / Eric Roset

The current president of the African Development Bank has been named the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate. Akinwumi Adesina of Nigeria is the 46th person to receive the award, which has been called the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture. 

World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn says Adesina’s work in African agriculture has expanded food production, thwarted corruption and increased the availability of credit to farmers.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

A federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas, awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas corn farmers after finding seed giant Syngenta AG was negligent when it introduced strains of genetically engineered corn seed into the marketplace that were not approved for import by the Chinese government.  

The eight-member jury returned its $217,700,000 verdict after an 18-day-long trial, the first of eight certified class actions lawsuits against Syngenta brought in state court.

Tim Mueller has raised corn and soybeans on 530 acres near the city of Columbus, Nebraska, for decades, but today he is planning to take a big gamble.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

President Donald Trump will be in Cedar Rapids tomorrow. He will tour Kirkwood Community College with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The visit will give them a look at advanced agriculture technologies offered in the country’s largest two-year agriculture program, and may offer an opportunity to speak on farm policy.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Two giants of American agriculture and industry are closer to becoming one.

 

Dow and DuPont, both leaders in agricultural chemicals and seeds, among other products, received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to move ahead with a merger, provided they divest several products.

 

After coming to an agreement with U.S. trade officials to bring American beef to China after a 14-year hiatus, the most populous country in the world is set to once again import U.S.-raised beef. To take advantage of the massive new market, however, the U.S. cattle industry is going to have to make some changes.

Toy Tractors and Codex Collections

Jun 14, 2017
Ben Stanton/IPR

Farm toys can be toy tractors, harvesters, plows, and other equipment.  Some are meant to be played with, and others—the "precision models"—many people take great care to keep in good shape.  During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe explores what farm toys mean to collectors. 

Guests include Kate Bossen of Bossen Implement in Lamont; Amanda Schwartz, the manager of the National Farm Toy Museum in Dyersville; and Chuck Steffens from Sherrill, who makes custom parts to add to the farm toy models.

Farmers and ranchers, with their livelihoods intimately tied to weather and the environment, may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump Administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

file: Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

President Trump is touting the need to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, and water transportation systems this week and farmers are among those hoping to benefit from new federal attention to infrastructure.

 

Ddryden87

Every once in a great while, a caller on Horticulture Day will ask a question that the Hort Gang just can't answer. When our experts are stumped, we turn to the Iowa State University Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe talks with members of the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic and takes calls from listeners, 

The Timelessness of Feed Sacks

Jun 1, 2017
Terry Eiler

Feed sacks have played an important role in American history. Other than holding flour, seeds, and animal feed corn, feed sacks were often fashioned into clothing by women from before the Great Depression, all the way up to the 1960s. The use of feed sacks as clothing had a direct impact on the way that companies marketed their products.

"One of the first things that happened was that they did figure out a way to make wash-out inks," says Linzee Kull McCray, Iowa City writer and author of "Feed Sacks; the Colorful History of a Frugal Fabric."

Joyce Russell/IPR

The first ever all-Iowa agriculture trade mission to China will take place this summer, with Governor Kim Reynolds leading representatives from all of Iowa’s main agriculture commodity groups.   

Pork, beef, turkey, corn, soybean, egg and dairy producers will visit with government officials in Beijing, Shanghai and Xian to encourage more purchase of Iowa commodities. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa State University’s Tractor Pull Club is competing in the International Quarter-Scale Student Tractor Design Competition this week. Students from mechanical, industrial, and agriculture and biosystems engineering build a small tractor, about the size of a ride-on lawn mower, that tries to outperform the others in tests of brute strength, durability and maneuverability.

This year 30 schools are sending teams to Peoria, Illinois and ISU’s club is hoping a winning innovation from last year will help it finish near the top.

Cattle ranchers have spent years battling big meat companies, saying the companies have too much market power. Now, those ranchers worry that a Trump Administration move to delay federal rules that would make it easier for them lodge complaints about unfair treatment may spell the end of the new rules altogether. But the industry is divided by the government’s move to make sure meat companies play fair with farmers.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

President Donald Trump has sent a proposed budget to Congress that includes slashing $38 billion from farm bill programs, including crop insurance and nutrition supports, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says reducing crop insurance subsidies would leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for farm damages from natural disasters.

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