agriculture

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The price of eggs used by food manufacturers has more than tripled in recent months. That’s largely thanks to the outbreak of bird flu spreading throughout Iowa, the nation’s number one egg production state.

Today, a dozen processing eggs costs roughly $2.26. In mid-April that same dozen cost 64 cents.

So far, Avian flu has affected more than 21 million egg-laying hens in Iowa alone. USDA poultry economist Alex Melton says this has food companies worried about supply.

Amy Mayer

The Iowa Department of Agriculture is canceling all live bird exhibitions at the Iowa State Fair, county fairs and other gatherings of birds in an effort to contain the spread of H5N2, a deadly bird flu that's led to the euthanization of more than 25 million poultry in the state. 

Scientists are still unsure exactly how the disease is spreading. The department’s order begins immediately and is effective through the end of 2015. 

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

 

An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped on the virus’s seemingly unstoppable spread.

Photo by Amy Mayer/IPR file

Composting millions of euthanized birds affected by avian flu is arduous and some poultry producers say the process takes too long. The corn stover usually used for cellulosic ethanol may help the process.

Stover is comprised of stalks, cobs and other waste left after harvest. A combination of heat and carbon-rich corn waste accelerates decomposition and kills the virus. The leftover material provides farmers with a compost to spread on fields. 

Flickr / J. N. Stuart

A team of wildlife biologists from the United States Department of Agriculture will be trapping small mammals and birds in Iowa and testing them for avian influenza over the next couple of weeks. USDA epidemiologists will also be interviewing workers at poultry operations about bio security practices. 

Iowa is the nation's leading poultry producer and so far more a third of the state's hens have been affected by the H5N2 virus. Nationwide the number of affected birds totals to 33 million. Avian influenza presents no food safety concerns.

Flickr / FAOALC

UPDATE: The United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed H5N2 in a Sioux County flock of 1.7 million hens. The USDA has not yet confirmed the presence of avian flu in the other four suspected flocks.

More than 6 million hens and juvenile chickens in northwest Iowa will be euthanized pending final confirmation of H5N2. The Iowa Department of Agriculture reports a total of five flocks may be affected by this highly pathogenic strain of avian flu. 

Aaron Putze

Yesterday a strain of avian flu called H5N2 was confirmed on a commercial turkey farm in Buena Vista County. As those 27,000 birds are euthanized, the other roughly 130 turkey farmers around the state are taking bio security measures to ensure their farms avoid the same fate.

H5N2 presents a minimal risk to humans. It creates no food safety concerns but is financially devastating to farmers because once the virus is detected in even one bird the entire flock is eradicated.

Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

After years of negotiations, a dozen countries – from New Zealand up to Canada – are on the verge of a trade agreement.

Wiese & Sons

One family, farming the same land generation after generation - this is a dream many farmers share, but not an easy one to realize.

Courtesy of Leon Wilkinson

Before the Great Depression there was the farm recession, and times were tough for farm families in Iowa. 

Diesel Dilemma

Dec 2, 2014

  Drivers of diesel-powered vehicles may be wondering why they aren't enjoying the same low prices as those who fill up with gasoline. 

Deere and Company

The John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in Waterloo opens to the public next Tuesday, Dec. 2.

Project  Manager Dawn Hendershot says it took four years to plan and renovate the structure which features 19 tractors from different eras and more than two dozen “hands-on “ interactive exhibits. She says “they’ll get to see examples of tractors, the engine design and manufacturing and how the tractors here have had a global impact.”

Premium Processing

Nov 11, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Central Iowa is about to get a much needed economic shot in the arm as a long awaited beef processing plant opens its doors providing hundreds of new jobs. 

Don't Blame the Farmers

Oct 10, 2014

  An Iowa energy expert says farmers are often unfairly blamed when propane supplies are low and prices are high. Farmers use LP to dry their corn before it's stored to avoid spoilage. Harold Hommes with the State Department of Agriculture says  farm use is only part of the picture. He says international customers also draw down supplies, " we now export around 400 thousand barrels a day and probably will for the foreseeable future.

Less Pain for Propane

Oct 9, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

   State agriculture and energy officials are working together in the event that there's high demand for liquid propane this harvest season. Iowa Propane Gas Association Executive Director Deb Grooms says customers were asked to top off their tanks this summer. She says farmers got the same message from Ag Secretary Bill Northey.

Produce Premium

Oct 7, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Iowa farmers and gardeners harvesting a bumper crop of produce can now get a tax credit when they make a donation to their local food bank.

Caustic Cucumbers

Sep 30, 2014
Courtesy photo

Along with Iowa' s more traditional crops, two species of cucumber vines are having a bumper year.  You won't find them at the farmer's market though, because they're weeds. The light green vines can grow as long as 30 feet and will coil around anything they touch. They've been showing up in windbreaks in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Iowa State University Agronomy professor Bob Hartzler says the vines are very aggressive and will return year after year.

Lynn Betts / Wikimedia Commons

Iowa is nestled in the center of America’s breadbasket; one of our most precious resources is beneath our feet. But it’s a resource in jeopardy.

Farmers are hopeful improvements are coming to the Midwest river system, which is crucial for shipping grain, in the form of the Waterways Resource Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). After years of work on the bill, Congress recently smashed together separate bills passed by each chamber and sent the White House a new $12.3 billion water infrastructure bill with bipartisan support. President Obama has yet to state whether he plans to sign the bill. The legislation authorizes improvements such as deepening ports.

Photo by Tim McCabe, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Last week, the U.S. Government indicted Chinese government hackers on charges of stealing trade secrets, claiming that the espionage has gone too far. When it comes to intellectual property, the internet isn’t the only place the Chinese are looking for U.S. trade secrets.

Ben Kieffer

The spring planting season is upon us and farmers are racing to get crops in the ground.

So yesterday morning, host Ben Kieffer hopped aboard a tractor with Jim Sladek, of JCS Family Farms in Johnson County, to get his perspective on the start of a new season and the challenges he faces, including soil erosion. Jim also demonstrated the amazing amount of technology that can be used in farming today.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Host Ben Kieffer sits down with Iowa Public Radio statehouse correspondent Joyce Russell about developments surrounding the confidential settlements within Governor Branstad's administration and the end of the legislative session.

Also, planting season is right around the corner. Iowa State University agronomist and ISU Extension climatologist Elwynn Taylor discusses soil conditions throughout Iowa.

Jen Hamilton-Emery

Today on News Buzz Ben Stanton fills in as host.  He tackles Iowa's All-Vet designation, farm accident fatalities and the use of drones in agriculture.

Alan Light

In this 'News Buzz' edition of River to River, hear about new rules for traffic cameras in Iowa, a stopgap farm bill passed in the U.S. House, a new hydrocodone-related drug which is meeting opposition from Iowa's Attorney General, the Hawkeyes will meet LSU, and what's with the early bout of cold weather?

Stefanie Seskin

Nearly all gasoline sold in the U.S. contains up to 10 percent of ethanol—a corn-based liquid often added to gasoline. As a renewable fuel ethanol reduces the amount of petroleum-based gasoline on the market and many farmers receive subsidies to grow corn for the biofuel. But now the Environmental Protection Agency is considering a reduction in the required amount of ethanol for the country's gasoline supply.  Harvest Public Media's Ames-based reporter Amy Mayer and host Ben Kieffer discuss the future of ethanol in the U.S.

I-5 Design & Manufacture

Recent movements addressing the obesity epidemic or industrial agriculture's dominance attempt to change how Americans eat.  Tracie McMillan sets out to understand the American food system from the bottom-up in  her book, “The American Way of Eating: Undercover at WalMart, Applebees, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table.”  Host Charity Nebbe asks McMillan where our food comes from and how we can eat healthier. 

Alan Light / Flickr

Since its beginning, the conservation movement has been focused on preserving the natural places we still have, but Joe Whitworth, president of the Freshwater Trust, says that is not good enough.  Host Charity Nebbe talks to Whitworth about his work restoring freshwater ecosystems, how he believes that clean water can co-exist with profitable agriculture, and the future of conservation.  

Dean Borg

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly update shows drought worsening and spreading across  the state. The monitor’s report includes Iowa in a Midwest section badly needing rain.  

Iowa State University Climatologist Elwynn Taylor says this week’s report is listing more of Iowa in a severe drought category.

“And it includes now almost all of the southern part of Iowa, and almost all of the central,” he says.

U.S. Forestry Service Region 5

The Emerald Ash Borer is spreading through Iowa.  It has now been found in Burlington.  Hear how the insect spreads and what is being done about it.  New rules are in effect for boaters on Iowa's waterways aimed at preventing the spread of invasive plants and animals.

Also, in the second half of the program, we talk about a Cuban baseball player that defected to the U.S. while in Des Moines.  And we wrap up the hour with a discussion about the weather and how Iowa's crops are reacting.

From infectious disease to sports and entertainment, River to River host Ben Kieffer has a news roundup show.  He'll talk with the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health about recent outbreaks of cyclospora and West Nile virus. Also, hear a little sports: Iowa’s  Zach Johnson is competing as the defending champion at the John Deere Classic Golf Tournament in the Quad Cities, and many Iowans reacted to University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz being listed as one of the worst coaches by Sports Illustrated recently.

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