IPR News Stories

Photo by Austin Kirk/Flickr

Current high egg prices are likely to continue, as the nation’s flock of egg-laying hens is at its smallest since 2004 thanks to the massive outbreak of avian influenza this spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s official numbers show nationally egg production dropped five percent in May compared to May 2014. But in Iowa, the nation’s largest egg producer and the state whose hens took the hardest hit from the flu, the figure is 28 percent.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Governor Branstad Monday went to a John Deere dealership in Perry to sign a bill to facilitate more broadband in Iowa.     

It’s dubbed the Connect Acre Bill, and Branstad says agriculture is just one business that will benefit from more high-speed internet access.   

The bill includes property tax breaks for communications companies to build out broadband to underserved areas, but not the five million dollars in grants the governor asked for. 

Photo by John Pemble

It appears that Governor Branstad is not ruling out an appeal of Friday’s Iowa Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for continued use of so-called telemed abortions.  

The court ruled that the Iowa Board of Medicine placed an unconstitutional burden on women when it banned the administration of abortion-inducing drugs without a doctor in the room. 

Under the procedure, a doctor uses two-way telecommunication to oversee a patient taking an abortion-inducing drug. Governor Branstad disagrees with the ruling.

Photo by Abby Wendle/Harveset Public Media

 

It’s Monday, around 9 o’clock, and the library is locked for the night.

Silently, Linda Zellmer appears on the other side of the glass door. She opens it and guides us up four dark floors towards a puddle of light.

“There it is,” she says, gazing down at the swollen bud of an orchid cactus. “It’s slowly opening.”

Zellmer perches on a stool behind her camera and waits in anticipation of the night’s big event: the moment when the bud opens.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Chemical runoff from agricultural land in the Midwest continues to contribute to an oxygen-deprived area in the Gulf of Mexico, and the so-called Dead Zone is not shrinking, despite ongoing efforts.

Photo by Kristofor Husted/Harvest Public Media

 

In Iowa, one in eight people struggles with hunger. Nationally, that figure is one in six. Food pantries across the country pass out food to help these people put meals on the table. But what if they could help teach the pantry visitors how to grow their own food, too?

Grow Well Missouri, a program that travels to food pantries around central Missouri, is trying to do just that, passing out seeds and starter plants to low-income locals.

Veggie Vendors

Jun 19, 2015
Courtesy photo

A pilot project that began in a University of Northern Iowa classroom has moved outdoors and is providing fresh produce to a couple of Waterloo neighborhoods where access to fruits and vegetables is limited by both income and language.

UNI Professor Kamyar Enshayan has been involved in local food programs for a number of years, most notably the Buy Fresh Buy Local initiative. He encourages his students to develop ideas to feed under-served neighborhoods and that’s how the Waterloo Mobile Produce Stand was born.

Photo by John Pemble

Iowa’s two Republican U.S. Senators Tuesday split their votes on a measure to strengthen the U.S. ban on torturing detainees.  

Senator Chuck Grassley voted yes on an amendment to bolster current law and give the Red Cross access to all detainees.   Senator Joni Ernest was among 21 Senators voting no.

“It is not wise to let our enemies known what our techniques are--that allows them to train, resist, and defeat it," Ernst said.

She says the president should be able to authorize torture if there’s a potential threat against Americans. 

Amy Mayer/IPR

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey attended an avian influenza support prayer supper in Buena Vista County Wednesday night. The picnic of pulled pork sandwiches and salads was in support of affected poultry producers.

Northey told the group of roughly 175 people that communities need to pull together during difficult times.

“It’s important to do what you’re doing tonight. And that’s put your arms around the folks that went through this, let them know how much you care,” Northey says. “We’ll get through this.”

Clay Masters / IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was campaigning in Iowa Wednesday, two days after announcing he's running for the Republican party nomination for president. 

His campaign chose small towns for town-hall style meetings. In Washington, Iowa he took questions from the press including one about Pope Francis’ view that a revolution is needed to combat climate change.

Barney Sherman

In 2009, Michael Gilbertson - a young man from Dubuque who has become one of America's leading composers - wanted to raise funds for his alma mater, the Northeast Iowa School of Music.

Photo by Eleanor Klibanoff for Harvest Public Media

It's no longer enough for restaurants to offer roasted chicken or braised beef shank on their menus. They need to be able to tell customers exactly where that chicken came from and how the cow was raised. If they can remember the pedigree of the produce? All the better. 

But serving locally sourced food is a challenge for chefs, and the farmer-foodie connections aren’t always easy to come by.  

Photo by John Pemble

Billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump made his first Iowa visit Tuesday, after officially declaring his candidacy for president earlier in the day. The Republican told a crowd of roughly 450 people at  the Hoyt Sherman Place auditorium in Des Moines that his wealth would keep him independent of special interests while serving in the White House.

Joyce Russell/IPR

By a vote of seven to two, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission Tuesday sided with developers over environmentalists and homeowners when it comes to putting back topsoil after new homes and businesses go up.     

The new rules will no longer require at least four inches of topsoil.     

Federal rules require restoration of topsoil to prevent stormwater runoff, but developers say Iowa’s standard is too strict.      

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The processes by which different countries regulate genetically modified crops vary, which can lead to billions of dollars in disrupted trade.

Differing regulations led to a huge corn kerfuffle between China and the United States in 2013. U.S. regulators had approved a new GM trait from Syngenta, which sold seeds containing that trait to American farmers. But when the corn arrived at Chinese ports and regulators there found the trait, they rejected all U.S. corn because China had not yet approved the trait. American farmers now allege the stoppage cost them dearly.

Photo by Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Agriculture officials don’t know just how the massive outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest was spread, but they believe the culprits include humans breaking biosecurity measures and the virus going airborne.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Examples of public art are appearing across Iowa in parks, on street corners, and in the lobbies of office buildings. Sculptor Bounnak Thammavong has been commissioned to create a piece that will be seen by thousands of travelers passing through the Des Moines International Airport.

On a late spring afternoon, Thammavong melts aluminum using a welding torch in his garage-turned-studio behind his house in Swisher.

Jindal Visits Iowa

Jun 15, 2015
IPR's Pat Blank

Louisiana Governor Republican Bobby Jindal was in Iowa Monday to take part in a forum on national security. The event was broadcast live from Mudd Advertising Studios in Cedar Falls and sponsored by the group Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security.  Jindal has been mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate. Jindal is expected to announce next week if he will join a crowded field of GOP candidates.

Photo by John Pemble

Governor Branstad today offered sympathy to the family of an Iowa Children’s Museum employee who was shot and killed inside the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville on Friday.   

Andrea Farrington, 20, of Cedar Rapids had reportedly complained that the suspect in the shooting had been watching her and leaving notes on her car. Governor Branstad is not ruling out new legislation on stalking as a result of the shooting.

Photo by John Pemble/IPR

Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrapped up a three day campaign swing through Iowa Sunday, and he had harsh words for Hillary Clinton on the issue of international trade.  

At a state fairgrounds rally, Clinton said she can’t say whether she supports a bill in Congress giving the President so-called fast track trade authority to facilitate a Pacific trade deal.  

Clinton says she needs to see what’s really in the bill.

Spring Dew/flickr

Utility employees from out-of-state who come in and save the day when there’s a major power outage would get some help at tax-filing time, under a bill state lawmakers have approved and sent to the governor. 

If Gov. Branstad signs the bill, employees who, for example, come to Iowa from Wisconsin would no longer have Iowa taxes withheld no matter how much money they earn here. 

Victoria Danielson at the Iowa Department of Revenue says the change will streamline tax-filing for the workers.

Rick Fredericksen / Iowa Public Radio

Among other things, Iowa is famous for corn, insurance and presidential campaigns. Perhaps the state’s most unknown creation is almost ready for shipment abroad. Iowa Public Radio’s Rick Fredericksen reports from Ida County.

A former National Guard Armory is where relics of history are resurrected on the edge of Ida Grove. Wood workers are trimming, routing and varnishing rafters and decorative trim for an old fashioned trolley car, the kind of transportation that used to be common. Grant Godbersen is Vice President of Gomaco Trolley Company.

Stop Bugging Me!

Jun 15, 2015

Summer’s official start is right around the corner and with it comes an increase of pesky insects. State Health Department officials are warning against lathering on too much insect repellent.  IDPH Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk says a little spray goes a long way. “You want to use the lowest concentration that you need,” she explains. “Concentrations don’t tell you how well they work, they tell you how long they’re going to last.”

Courtesy of Mercy for Animals

A Morgan County, Colorado, dairy farm is at the center of an animal abuse investigation following the release of a video showing workers punching and stabbing dairy cattle.

Morgan County Sheriff Jim Crone has yet to press criminal charges against workers shown in the videos, but says he’s working with the farm’s owners Jim and Marie Goedert to locate current and former employees. In a statement, the Goederts say they’ve taken disciplinary action against the employees involved.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign for the Democratic nomination for president this weekend.   On Sunday she wrapped up a two-day organizing tour of Iowa.     An army of volunteers, clipboards in hand, began the hard work of lining up Democrats to come out and caucus for Clinton in February.   

Doors were scheduled to open at 10:30 in the morning for an event at the Elwell Center at the state fairgrounds. Middle school English teacher Mike Sorenson from Fredericksburg was standing in line well before that on a cloudy humid day.

Flickr / sharyn morrow

The Iowa Supreme Court says the front steps of a single-family home are not public space and therefore a woman in northeast Iowa cannot be charged with public intoxication.

In June 2013, Waterloo police answered a domestic disturbance 911 call. Patience Paye was in her home when officers arrived, but stepped onto her front porch to speak with police.

Though it was Paye who called 911, officers determined that she was an aggressor. A breath sample showed Paye’s blood-alcohol level to be 0.267.

History lessons about World War II often focus on places where battles were fought, but a new play examines the conflict’s effect on life in a small town.  The story for “Bonds of War” centers around real events and people working at the Adair County Free Press in Greenfield, Iowa during the 1940s.  It’s written by Des Moines author John Busbee.

Courtesy of the Justice Corps of Iowa / Facebook

With comic books, science fiction, and superheroes, geek culture is having a moment. Phil Hester, a comic book illustrator and author from North English, Ia, says that is due to its traction in mainstream movies.

“Now all this stuff that you couldn’t dream of looking real, sounding real, and moving in a real way, now can be done on screen. That has opened it up to a sea of people that wouldn’t be caught dead walking in a comic book store.”

Joyce Russell/IPR

The Iowa Utilities Board has issued a schedule of deadlines for the controversial Bakken crude oil pipeline which would criss-cross the state from northwest to southeast.   

The schedule indicates the board will rule on the Dakota Access application by December or January.      

Dakota Access is a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer.The pipeline would transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.  

IPR file photo by John Pemble

Iowa’s senior U.S. senator says the federal rule-making process is out of control. Republican Chuck Grassley says recent changes to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Waters of the US Rule were made without adequate Congressional oversight.

“Regulation should be high-quality, based on sound-science and crafted in (the) open, with the public’s participation,” Grassley says, “and properly reviewable by the courts. Transparency brings accountability.”

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