Iowa industry

Polaris Industries Facebook

More than 300 people in northwest Iowa are getting laid off, now that Polaris Industries is shifting production of all-terrain and utility vehicles to Alabama, Minnesota and California.

The company says the layoffs at its Milford facility are the result of an effort to streamline plant infrastructure.

Milford is a town of fewer than 3,000 people and Polaris is the community's biggest employer. Mayor Bill Reinsbach says layoffs will hurt the local economy. 

AMY MAYER/IPR FILE PHOTO

The City of Des Moines’s water utility is trying to sue 10 drainage districts in northwest Iowa in federal court, accusing the districts of polluting the Raccoon River. But first, Des Moines Water Works must convince the state Supreme Court that drainage districts can be held liable.

The drainage districts assert that for over a century, the Iowa Supreme Court has held that they can’t be sued for a civil wrong due to their limited authority. Attorney Michael Reck told the court during oral arguments Wednesday that it should stand by its previous rulings.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

St. Louis-based Monsanto, a world agribusiness leader, has agreed to be acquired by the German company Bayer. Bayer will pay $57 billion dollars, or $128 per share, in a deal that has been in the works since last spring.

Two other mergers are underway in the industry, with Dow set to combine with DuPont (already the owner of Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer) and ChemChina planning to buy the Swiss company Syngenta.

CLAY MASTERS/IPR FILE

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Corn Growers Association are offering to pay the legal costs in a lawsuit that names three northwest Iowa counties.  Des Moines Water Works alleges that farm runoff from drainage districts in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac Counties has caused exceedingly high nitrate levels in the city's water supply. 

Craig Hill is president of the Farm Bureau. He says the counties have been unfairly singled out in the Water Works lawsuit.

Brian Wilkins/Flickr

The University of Northern Iowa’s Business and Community Services is partnering with six Northeast Iowa counties to launch a new initiative in support of small business growth and entrepreneurship.  The project is one of five in the state. 

Program Manager James Hoelscher says he believes the importance of small business is often underestimated.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee plans to examine proposed mergers among agricultural chemical and seed companies in a September hearing.

 

Flickr / Jason Mrachina

U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack will be at the National Governors Association's summer meeting in Des Moines Saturday to discuss the value of local foods to rural economies.

Vilsack says in order to repopulate rural communities, smaller farming operations need consumers that don't put a premium on size and speed. One strategy to carve out markets for these smaller producers is through food hubs.

Cedar Ridge Distillery

Beer manufacturers and wholesalers are trying to stop a bill in the legislature that would benefit Iowa’s burgeoning distillery industry.  

The bill would put makers of spirits on a more even playing field with breweries and wineries.   

Under the bill, distilleries could sell spirits by the glass in their tasting rooms and increase the daily sales limit.   Wineries and brewers can sell by the glass and bottle with no sales or production limits.    

Photo by Amy Mayer

The new agriculture company founded in the wake of the merger of industry titans Dow and DuPont will not be headquartered in Iowa, as local politicians had hoped, the companies announced Friday.

Iowa's Congressional delegation pushed for the companies to put the newly-formed agriculture business in Iowa, but it will be headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Still, Johnston, Iowa, where DuPont Pioneer is based, and Indianapolis will serve as what the companies call "Global Business Centers."

Dani Ausen

While across the country first-time home buying is still down since the recession, it appears millennials are starting to move out of apartments or their parents basements. One place millennials are currently buying a majority of the houses is Des Moines.

Ripley Entertainment

Ripley’s Believe it or Not, the organization that collects and exhibits oddities from all over the world, has a new book Eye Popping Oddities that highlights a few Iowans.

Edward Meyer, Vice President of Exhibits and Archives, has been traveling the world collecting unusual stories and artifacts for more than three decades. 

"If you look at page 230 in the  new book, we have a photo of a guy who collected his fingernail clippings for over 10 years and sent me a paper weight made of them," he laughs. "It's probably buried under paper." 

Clay Masters / IPR

  New figures from Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship show 1,800 Iowa farmers have taken advantage of $3.5 million in state money meant to reduce pollutants from their fields. The state’s largest water utility says the figures divert attention from Iowa’s slide toward accepting environmental mediocrity.

John Bollwitt

Traditional, big American breweries are in the midst of a global identity crisis. Meanwhile, craft beer microbreweries in the U.S. are flourishing like never before.

hyoin min / flickr

Democratizing entrepreneurship and creativity

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with co-founder Amanda West and speakers of this year's EntreFEST, a three-day event promising game-changing training and inspiration, featuring over a hundred entrepreneurs. They discuss why co-working spaces are becoming more popular, how tech can help factories thrive in the 21st century, and how politics, art, and contemporary culture inspired a thought-provoking t-shirt line.

Flickr

Agricultural equipment manufacturing companies across the Midwest are downsizing their work force. After nearly one thousand layoffs last October, another round will sideline an additional thousand workers. Deere and Company has announced 910 layoffs. Black Hawk Engineering in Cedar Falls will idle 40 workers, and Unverferth Manufacturing near Shell Rock will sideline 48 employees.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

The golf clubs may be stored away until next spring, but some of Iowa’s 400 golf courses are still buzzing with activity, especially in a suburb of Des Moines. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen has the story from Norwalk.

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.”

Deere Decline

Nov 26, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Quad Cities based Deere and Company is reporting fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations.

The agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer says earnings per share were $1.83 on revenue of $8.9 billion. That topped predictions of $1.57 on $7.75 billion in sales. 

But when compared with the previous year, the company's earnings and revenue both declined.  Deere officials say they don’t expect that trend to improve in 2015.

Deere expects sales to decline in  both its agriculture and turf equipment lines.

gb_packards

Donaldson Company, Inc. is closing its Grinnell plant, laying off 75 workers.

Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

 

Northwestern Colorado has a rich heritage of raising sheep – either for their meat or for wool.

John Bollwitt

Traditional, big American breweries are in the midst of a global identity crisis. Meanwhile, craft beer microbreweries in the U.S. are flourishing like never before.

El Photography and Design

A lawsuit against Templeton Rye has received approval to proceed by the state attorney general’s office, but Founder Keith Kerkhoff says the allegations of the lawsuit are untrue. 

Red Earth Green Earth

Sep 11, 2014
IPR's Pat Blank

Members of the Meskwaki Nation near Tama have established a community-based farm operation.

The Red Earth Gardens spans 40 acres and boasts a wide variety of crops.  In the short two seasons they've been in operation, they've managed to grow numerous varieties of  fruits and vegetables. The tribe's extensive planning process includes a transition from row crop to certified organic by sometime next year.

Tribal members grow produce for the settlement but they also sell it to the nearby casino, at a roadside stand and at area farmer's markets.  

Iowa Winegrowers Association

Iowa's grape harvest is underway in many parts of the state and the news from the field is not good. State Viticulturist Mike White says a cold and wet spring destroyed many of the vines and production statewide could be down between 30 and 40 percent. He says " there are some spots like Dubuque that seem to be fairing  better, but mostly the cold damage is there and the yield is low."

J. Stephen Conn

In this segment of River to River, we discuss the situation in the Northwest Iowa town of Cherokee, home to about 5000 Iowans.

Library of Congress

During prohibition, there were people all over the United States making and selling spirits, but the people in Templeton, Iowa who were making fine whiskey were not your run of the mill bootleggers.  Host Charity Nebbe digs in to the remarkable history of Templeton Rye with Bryce Bauer, author of Gentlemen Bootleggers: The True Story of Templeton Rye, Prohibition, and a Small Town in Cahoots and historian Tim Walch.  They talk about why Iowa went dry five years before the rest of the country and how this small town set

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Iowa brewer and author Jay Wilson first gained notoriety for his all-beer lenten fast.  Now he's back with a guide to help beer enthusiasts navigate Iowa's brewery boom.  Host Ben Kieffer talks with him about his book, Iowa Pints due out June 12th.

El Photography and Design

If you drink whiskey, and if you eat pork, you’ve probably come to understand them as a pretty good pairing. Scott Bush, President and Founder of Templeton Rye Whiskey in Templeton, Iowa, says he's always enjoyed the combination. Recently, he's taken it one step further.

wikimedia.org

Public radio's most well-known voice, Garrison Keillor, speaks to Host Charity Nebbe about his new book, "The Keillor Reader" (Penguin).  

Mr. Keillor will be bringing his "A Prairie Home Companion," to Des Moines this Saturday, May 3rd and he'll also read from the book in Iowa City on Sunday, May 4th.  Does he consider himself a shy person?--listen and find out!

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