Page 1

April 2013 Section 1

A Special Supplement to The Leader, Buffalo Center Tribune, Kanawha Reporter, Pioneer Enterprise, and The Sheffield Press

Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 2

Iowans Selected to Oversee the National Beef Checkoff Program AMES - Four Iowa beef producers were selected to serve on national committees to oversee the Beef Checkoff at the 2014 Cattle Industry Annual Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee, February 4-7, 2014. Terri Carstensen, Odebolt, and Scott McGregor, Nashua, will serve oneyear terms on the Beef Promotion Operating Committee, which, following input from beef producers nationwide, will make final budget allocations for FY 2015 national Beef Checkoff Programs. Dean Black, Somers, and Kent Pruismann, Rock Valley, were selected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. Black and Pruismann, appointed

by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, represent Iowa cattle producers on the Beef Board. The 11-member Executive Committee operates under the direction of and within the policies established by the full Board and is responsible for carrying out Beef Board policies and conducting business and making decisions necessary to administer the terms and provisions of the Act and Order between meetings of the full Board. Carstensen and McGregor represent the Iowa Beef Industry Council on the Federation of State Beef Councils, which is an alliance of 45 state beef councils that collect the $1 per-head beef checkoff. Beef councils forward

50 cents of the $1 beef checkoff to the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and retain the other 50 cents for in-state use or to re-invest with the Federation to extend national beef promotion efforts. Each year the beef checkoff undergoes a producer-driven budget and program planning process. The Operating Committee, with 10 Federation members and 10 CBB members, approves the final national plan. National programs are funded by investments from the Federation (from state beef council investments) and the national 50 cents, collected through the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. The Operating Committee will approve plans for FY 2015, which begins Oct. 1,

2015. The beef checkoff is a $1-per-head assessment a majority of cattlemen voted upon themselves in 1986 to spend on advertising, beef safety research, product enhancement, new product development, foodservice and retail programs and consumer education. Importers are assessed a comparable amount for beef products they import into the United States. Support for the beef checkoff, at 78 percent, is the highest recorded in the past 21 years, according to a recent survey of 1,225 beef and dairy producers nationwide. For more information about checkoff programs, visit

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 3, Section 1

IFBF Margin Management Series Features Webinar on Opportunities and Challenges of ‘Big Data’ Farmers have long documented and stored their data to be more efficient on the farm. Just as technology has changed the way we farm, data has become a modern agricultural commodity with the ability to revolutionize agriculture, but it doesn’t come without questions and concerns. On Thursday, April 3 at 1 p.m., Matt Erickson from American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) will present a live webinar, “The Power and Pitfalls of Big Data.” Erickson will explore what big data is, the challenges and opportunities, data ownership, value, privacy and more. For years, farmers have used technological advances to better match hybrids and seed varieties with specific field characteristics. Now, several seed, fertilizer, and equipment companies are collecting and monitoring real-time variables on site-specific ground related

to planting population, seed hybrid planting, soil topography, fertilizer usage, yield data, and a growing list of other variables to better utilize resources. “We know that farmers have questions about the emerging field of big data in agriculture and they are seeking insight into the challenges and opportunities, said Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. “This webinar will help farmers know questions they should consider about the tradeoffs between privacy, value, security, and return on investment regarding big data. Participants can access the webinar from their home or farm office. Preregistration is not required for online viewing. Participants will have the opportunity to text questions to the speaker during the webinar. For more information, contact Kordick at

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 4, Section 1

Rayhons grows support for local corn promotion board By Rebecca Peter Michelle Rayhons, rural Garner, is a member of the District 2 Committee of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. An official charter signing ceremony was held in Mason City on Dec 10, 2013. District 2 of the Iowa Corn Growers Association includes Hancock, Kossuth, Winnebago, Worth, Mitchell, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Humboldt,

Wright, Franklin, and Butler Counties. “The purpose of the committee is to be a liaison between the state board and the local county boards,” Rayhons said. One of the first tasks of the District 2 Committee is organizing local Corn Growers Association Boards in each of the 11 counties in District 2. “The great thing is our district jumped up and took

the lead,” Rayhons said. “We are the first district in Iowa to have actually organized. Since we don’t have a local county board, this is my way of being able to get started within the program.” “I definitely would like to have a county board established by July. We’ll be small, but it’s a start,” she said. Producers interested in forming a Hancock County

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Iowa Corn Growers Board are invited to contact Rayhons at 641-923-3162. A mission of the Iowa Corn Growers Association is to communicate to others about corn production and promote corn products. The Association works to build grassroots support for issues affecting corn producers. “There are over 4,000 products made with corn. You touch them every day and probably don’t even know it,” Rayhons said. “I think there are a lot of people in the State of Iowa who are two or three generations removed from the farm,” she continued. “They don’t understand what it is to be a farmer. They think farming is just in the spring and the fall. Well no, we work 12 months out of the year like everyone else. We are a business. We have income and we also have expenses.” Challenges A challenge facing corn producers is to maintain support for ethanol. Rayhons would like to see ethanol go from a 10 percent blend to a 15

percent blend. “I think there definitely needs to be more E85 out there,” she said. “We are very lucky in Garner to have an E85 pump.” Controversy over genetically modified foods, including corn and soybeans, is another challenge. In Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in crops were engineered to be resistant to plant diseases and insect damage, as well as for higher yields. Critics of GMOs say there are unanswered questions on the potential long-term impact on human health, and want mandatory labeling of food products. “Being a farmer, I’m not against GMOs,” Rayhons stated. “GMOs are feeding the world. If you want to see GMOs gone, then who do you not want to see survive?” Other challenge is the controversy over high fructose corn syrup, which is used in many food products. Critics say it is contributing to the obesity problem in the country. “High fructose corn

syrup is no different than sugar,” said Rayhons. “I’m not against the products. Both need to be used in moderation. You have to be smart about what you eat.” Michelle and her husband, Gary, farm 800 acres near Hayfield, which they rotate in corn and soybeans. The couple has two children: Lucas, 13, and MaKenna, 11. Family Farm “It’s definitely a family farm, but you have to treat it as a business,” she said. “You have to watch how much you’re getting in but also your input costs.” “There are so many things that people don’t realize that we have to put money into just to put that seed in the ground and get it back out.” “It’s quite interesting what is coming in the future,” she continued. Rayhons is interested in learning more about potential agricultural uses of drones (unmanned aircraft) to survey fields and pinpoint potential problems. “Farming has gone continued on page 5

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 5, Section 1

Rayhons grows support for local corn promotion board continued from page 4 from, ‘What can I do for this field?’ to ‘what can I do for this stalk of corn?’ With this new technology we can get a better idea of what’s going on in every corner

of the field,” she said. “It’s just amazing and it will be really exciting for my son’s generation to see what farming is going to be like.”

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 6, Section 1

Iowa Pork Producer president on trade By Rebecca Peter A rural Garner man is a part of a delegation on a trade mission to China. Jamie Schmidt, Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) President, is in China from March 28 to April 5. The delegation includes IPPA CEO Rich Degner, District 4 IPPA board member Al Wulfekuhle, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and representatives from the Iowa Beef Industry Council, Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and an International Trading Co. Former Thornton resident Mark Fisher of the Iowa Economic Development Authority is also a member

of the delegation. The delegation will visit Beijing and Shanghai, participate in briefings at the U.S. Embassy and with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, meet with meat companies, tour meat plants and visit supermarkets. “I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like,” said Schmidt, a 40-year pork producer. “China is a very good pork consumer. Over 50 percent of the pork in the whole world is raised in China. But if you can sell one pound of pork to 1.3 billon people, that’s a lot of pork.” The trade mission is also about putting a face on the Iowa pork industry and learning about what U.S. ex-

port partners want and how pork producers can supply what they need. “We’ll talk to meat buyers to see if they have concerns with our product or if there is a better way to meet their needs,” said Schmidt. “We’ll go into supermarkets and see how our product is displayed.” Schmidt has been on the IPPA board as District 2 representative since 2007. He became president on January 21 during the IPPA annual meeting in Des Moines. Education, research and promotion are important functions of the IPPA. “We have to look out for our methods of production and to explain why we do

what we do,” he said. “I feel we do a much better job taking care of our livestock now than even when I started. It’s import to have a group of people who are willing to do those things.” The IPPA funds various research projects each year including research to fight Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) Virus. PED is a new imported virus that is deadly to piglets. How it entered the United State is unknown. “We never had it in the U.S. until April of last year,” Jamie said. “There’s about 160 cases a week get diagnosed. It is very easily spread and extremely high death loss among suckling pigs.”

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“With the type of virus it is, current vaccines are not very effective. The death loss among sows is not very high but among suckling pigs its tremendous.” Schmidt estimated pork production in July could be nine percent below a year ago due to the PED virus. “It is probably going to drive the cost [of pork] for the consumer up. But the producers who get the disease – they don’t have anything to sell.” “We’re putting money into research to find a vaccine, how to handle once you get it,” he continued. Currently, however, the only avenue to control the spread of PED is vigilance and increased biosecurity precautions. Nutrient Reduction The IPPA supports the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy introduced last year by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University. “We’re trying to get our producers to grab a hold of that and look at ways to save soil. Producers are encouraged implement strategies such as planting cover crops, better timing of nitrogen application and using nitrogen stabilizers. “Most nitrogen loss is through leaching. If we can prevent the leaching we won’t have to use as much nitrogen and we can save money in crop production and it doesn’t get into the water,” he said. “We want to encourage producers to do our part.” Farm Bill The 2014 Farm Bill had some provisions for livestock loss that should be helpful, he noted. “With the grain prices coming back down some, that should help continued on page 7

Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 7, Section 1

mission to China continued from page 6

the profitability of livestock producers in general. We’ve had some red ink the last couple of years we need to recover from.� “As long as you can keep your herd healthy it should be a fairly good year for livestock producers,� he said. Schmidt Family Farms Jamie is part of a multigenerational farm operation – Schmidt Family Farms. The partnership includes his parents, Luverne and Mary Ann Schmidt; brother Lonnie, and nephews Mark and

Adam. The family farms corn and beans row, and has a cattlefeeding enterprise. They farrow-to-finish 18,000 head of hogs annually. They have three full-time employees. In addition to the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Jamie Schmidt is a member of the Hancock County Pork Producers, Iowa Farm Bureau. Schmidt Family Farms is member of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Corn and Soybean Associations.

Jamie Schimdt, rural Garner, became Iowa Pork Producer Association President in January. He is a member of an agricultural trade delegation in China this week. (Photo by Rebecca Peter)

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April 2014

Section 2

A Special Supplement to The Leader, Buffalo Center Tribune, Kanawha Reporter, Pioneer Enterprise, and The Sheffield Press

Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 2, Section 2

Iowa Corn partners with Iowa Food & Family Project to connect with consumers


JOHNSTON - Iowa Corn is partnering with the Iowa Food & Family Project to better acquaint Iowans with farmers and enhance their confidence in how food is grown, pre-

pared and served. Interest in food among Iowans continues to spike, mirroring national trends. Eighty-five percent of respondents in Iowa Food & Family Project’s annual

Iowa consumer pulse survey said they think “often” or “sometimes” about how the food they eat is grown.

 “I’m excited about Iowa Corn’s involvement with the Iowa Food & Family

Project because it connects families to Iowa farm families at the beginning of the food cycle,” says Roger Zylstra, a farmer and current President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. 

 Iowa Corn’s sponsorship increases familiarity and confidence in how food is grown by encouraging conversations and provid-

ing unique opportunities for farm families and their urban neighbors to become better acquainted,” Zylstra says. “The Iowa Food & Family Project is another consumer outreach program that allows Iowa Corn to reach consumers who do not farm.”

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ing its spring “You on the Farm” contest, where one lucky winner and their family will have the opportunity to spend the day with an Iowa farm family. While on the farm, the family will see how Iowa farms function. The guests may have the opportunity to drive a tractor and help plant corn. The winner will be randomly selected in April.

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 3, Section 2

Iowa Soybean Association survey: exports, production research key to soybean farmers ANKENY – Iowa soybean farmers are concerned about herbicide resistance, market volatility and building exports. They perceive domestic livestock production and consumer confidence in today’s farming methods as critical to their future success. And they’re heavily invested in on-farm management practices to improve soil and water quality and eager to learn how to successfully implement components of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The insight was provided by nearly 440 soybean farmers surveyed by CampaignHQ of Brooklyn. The poll was conducted in November on behalf of the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). When asked what the biggest challenge will be to the soybean industry in the next two to three years, 16 percent of farmers said herbicide resistance followed by market volatility (15 percent). 

Among nine topics queried, soybean farmers ranked weed, insect and disease research, growth of domestic livestock production, favorable consumer trust in farming and international market growth for soybeans as the top-four issues affecting the continued success of their farming operations. Soybean farmers have embraced a variety of on-farm strategies to improve environmental performance and are interested in learning more about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, according to the survey. • Fifty-five percent cited minimum tillage (most popular response) followed by no-till (49 percent), grassed waterways (41 percent) and crop rotation (36 percent) when queried about conservation practices currently used on their farms.  • Thirty-nine percent said they are familiar with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Nearly one-third say

they’re planning to participate in the strategy while 52 percent were considering involvement. • When asked what the ISA can do to best assist soybean farmers in participating in the strategy, 37 percent said additional information and analysis about practices to help them assess what may work best on their farms, 18 percent indicated more information about the strategy while 11 percent said to provide more opportunities to view onfarm demonstrations. Other findings of note: • Seventy-eight percent of soybean farmers surveyed do not plan to change the number of acres they plant to soybeans in 2014; 12 percent said they plan to plant more acres to soybeans while 11 percent plan to plant fewer acres to soybeans. • Ninety-four percent say soybean exports are important to the price they receive for their soybeans. Soybean farmers also value information and

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engagement provided by the ISA. Ninety-three percent of respondents say information they receive from the ISA is trustworthy while 88 percent perceive it to be valuable. In addition, 86 percent of those surveyed said they would recommend an ISA membership to other farmers.

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 4, Section 2

West Hancock FFA grant helps community garden

A national FFA grant is helping the West Hancock High School FFA chapter to help

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territories support yearlong service-learning projects that address local hunger needs. Locally, West Hancock was one of 122 schools in 35 states and the Virgin Islands to be awarded a $2,500 grant. “Over 200 chapters applied this year,” said Paul Hauge, West Hancock agriculture teacher and FFA advisor. The chapter also received a grant in 2013, which they used to assist with the Britt Community Garden by purchasing a tiller and seeds to plant. This year, they plan to once again use the grant to

Calibrate your meters, calculate the profits Your meters should be 98%+ accurate, but you’re probably getting 92%-97%. Each point is worth another bushel or two per acre. There’s a lot of room for improvement. Your meters – finger, vac, Precision, Deere, Kinze, White, CaseIH – spacing depth germination Precision Planting pays need to be calibrated to your spacing, speed and seeds. You’ll see more ears, yield, profit.

assist with the garden by helping with seeds, and possibly a better irrigation system. They also hope to have projects that extend beyond the garden. “Not all of the grant has to be used for the garden,” Hauge said. “Last year we helped out with the garden and had some educational opportunities for the elementary kids and the care center with our ‘gardening for all ages.’” This year, the project, “Veggies, Fruit & Butterflies,” will assist the community garden as well as purchase and plant fruit trees. A potential butterfly garden may also be on the horizon. “We hope we can build a butterfly garden, we have the money built in for that,” Hauge said. “And we have $400 set aside for fruit trees.” Throughout the growing season, FFA members assist by helping to till, plant, water and harvest the garden. spacing

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“Every Sunday night for 11 weeks we had a group get together to pick from the garden,” said Hauge. C o m m u n i t y members also involved in the garden are also able to take the fresh produce and others in the community also benefited from the gardens harvest, including the Britt Food Bank. “We harvested at least 350 pounds of tomatoes, onions, green beans, squash radishes and kale that were given to the food bank,” Hauge said. Hauge hopes to recruit a core group od community volunteers and gardeners to assist with the effort this year. “We’d like to see more community involvement,” said Hauge. “We sent letters out to student and community groups and we’d maybe like to get three or four master gardeners to help us. We know people are getting some good out of it,” said Hauge.

Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 5, Section 2

Left: Some of the West Hancock FFA members involved with community garden included Logan Brown, Logan Weiland, Maribel Zamago and Tommy Nelson. The sign, which will be placed at the garden site this summer, was created with the help of the industrial technology department at West Hancock. (Emillie Jenson photo)

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 6, Section 2

Stromer believes in caring for By Darcy Maulsby When Dean Stromer looks across his strip-tilled fields this time of year, the distinctive stripes remind him of a lesson he learned more than 40 years ago. “When I took Dr. Joe Stritzel’s soils 101 class at Iowa State University in the early 1970s, he held up a beaker filled with soil and emphasized that it’s always called soil in his class. The only time it is called dirt is when it’s not in its proper place.” Stromer favors strip tilling to keep soil in its proper place in his Hancock County fields, rather than in the ditches or nearby Iowa River. He expanded his use of his 8-row strip-till implement to cover nearly all his acres in the fall of 2013. Strips are tilled about 10 inches deep, leaving some residue on the surface to hold soil in place while still allowing a cleared space for the seed bed. Strip till is catching on in Stromer’s area, growing from no acres just a couple years ago to approximately 1,800 acres today. Strip tilling also makes

spring fieldwork easier, added Stromer, who didn’t do any field cultivating last spring. “It’s more fun to be planting rather than field cultivating.”

Practical solutions Strip till is one of the many conservation practices Stromer has implemented on his farm to protect soil and water quality while maintaining yield potential. He and his sons Daniel, 35, and William, 30, are always looking for better ways to protect the environment while maximizing yields on their 900 acres of corn and soybeans. Stromer, a Hancock County Farm Bureau member, has many good reasons to focus on conservation, from his children and grandchildren, who are the fifth and sixth generations of his family to live in the area, to the Iowa River, which flows within two miles of his family’s Century Farm. “I don’t want the government to mandate our farming practices,” said Stromer, who has served as a Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) commissioner

for nearly 20 years. “We can put conservation in place voluntarily, and there are programs available to help.” Stromer has used the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement new management practices on his farm. When he began by looking for ways to better manage his nitrogen (N) investment, he signed EQIP contracts in 2006 on three plots totaling 320 acres.

Precision nitrogen Since then, Stromer has used late-spring soil N tests, grid soil sampling, stalk nitrate tests and other tools to track his crops’ nutrient removal rates. “I want to know if I’m putting on too much fertilizer or not enough,” said Stromer, who is also using variable-rate technology to manage nutrients more effectively and boost his yields. The Stromers apply phosphorus and potassium when they strip till in the fall. Stromer has not applied nitrogen in the fall for 20 years and doesn’t apply any at pre-plant, although he

Dean Stromer, rural Klemme, (right) visits with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, at the 7th annual Agricultural Breakfast and Seminar, March 25 at Garner-Hayfield/Ventura High School. Northey was featured speaker at the event. (Photo by Rebecca Peter)

does use some starter fertilizer at planting. Later in the growing season, he side-dresses N, starting when the corn crop is a few inches tall until it’s about waist high. He also uses liquid N as a carrier for his herbicide application. “Spoon feeding” the crop in

this manner reduces trips across the field, which not only saves fuel and time but also reduces soil compaction. Including strip tillage in the system contributes to better soil tilth and more

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earthworm activity. “When you get earthworms working for you, you get a lot of benefits,” said Stromer, who noted that the tiny creatures help aerate the heavy, wet Clarion, Nicollet and Webster soils that are common on his farm. Strip till also enhances the soil tilth, added Stromer, whose fields include tile drainage. “Your drainage improves when your soil isn’t compacted. People have asked if I added tile on the end rows, because they noticed that there’s no water standing there.” Carrying on a tradition Finding new ways to care for the land is a tradition for the Stromer family, who have lived and farmed in the area since the 1880s. In the 1960s, Stromer’s father, Harold, began installing filter strips on his fields. He also added a farm pond in 1962, thanks to the help of government cost-share dollars. “Dad was ahead of his time,” said Stromer, who has farmed full time since he graduated from Klemme High School in 1972. “While he hunted

and trapped, he just enjoyed seeing wildlife on the farm, too.” Enjoying nature is also important to Stromer, who recalled walking to the Iowa River to fish when he was a boy. Today, when he drives by his fields near the river, he takes a broader view of the ecosystem. “Look at these two beautiful hooded mergansers on the water,” said Stromer, pointing to two ducks near the bridge. “I want to protect soil and water quality, and I don’t want the Iowa River to look like chocolate milk.”

Jim Frederick, a re- there are a lot of resources tired NRCS assistant to help you.” state conservationist from Sac City, appreciates Darcy Maulsby is a Stromers’ commitment to freelance writer in Lake conservation. “Dean is an City. Article is reprinted with innovator, and he works to make things better. permission of the Farm Farmers like Dean show Bureau Spokesman (photo metro creative connection) that a voluntary approach to conservation like the For allReduction your Insurance and Real Estate needs Iowa Nutrient and• in your future Strategy can work.” todayFlood Auto • Home • Motorcycle • Life • Commercial Insurance Stromer encourages farmers to keep looking for ways to incorporate practical, effective Personal and Commercial Dennis Huntbatch, Betty Huntbatch, Scott Huntbatch conservation measures 312 M Dennis Huntbatch that work for their acres. HUNTBATCH BettyINSURANCE Huntbatch 312 Main Street East Rockwell, Iowa “There’s a lot to learn, but & ESTATE, LTD. Rockwe Scott Huntbatch Personal and Commercial www.hun 312 Main Street East Dennis Huntbatch Phone (641) 822-3215 Email agents @hun

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 8, Section 2

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Agriculture April 2014 Section 3

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 2, Section 3

Growing the market for local food By Andrew Shaw A growing network of north Iowa producers is looking to make local food a bigger part of people’s lives. Healthy Harvest of North Iowa is a group of local food leaders, including producers, consumers and elected officials, who are working together to get the word out about local food and to build a market for those products. While north Iowa is a very agricultural area, it doesn’t have a large population, and Healthy Harvest Coordinator Jan Libbey says that makes for a challenging market. “Right now, we probably have more product and production capacity than we have a market for.” said Libbey. One of Healthy Harvest’s goals is to connect consumers with local producers, and it’s been organizing events to bring people together. It has set up tours at area farms, where consumers are invited to

see how food is grown and build relationships with local farmers. It has also organized “Farm to Fork” dinners, where restaurants prepare meals made with local ingredients. The group has held successful events in Mason City, and Libbey says they’re interested in organizing a dinner in Winnebago County. Healthy Harvest cites many benefits to eating locally grown food. Rather than being harvested days or weeks in advance to be shipped across the country, local produce can be picked when it’s at its peak for taste and nutritional value. “I think the quality is a significant improvement,” said Libbey, who is a local producer herself. She and her husband have operated a Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) farm in Hancock County for 19 years. Local food also has an economic impact, as dollars spent on local food stay in the local community. “Those producers live in and

are invested in those local communities,” said Libbey. She says communities also benefit from the positive relationships which are built between consumers and local producers. Libbey says local food is also good for the environment, as it brings a lot of diversity to the landscape. Farms grow many different crops, and Libbey says some livestock producers are raising grass-fed beef and pastureraised poultry. While the producers involved with Healthy Harvest don’t all focus on purely organic crop production, Libbey says most of them use a minimal amount of chemicals. She also notes that buying local food cuts down on the fuel used to transport food. One of the tools Healthy Harvest uses to market its message about local food is the Buy Fresh, Buy Local food guide. The guide features lists of local producers of vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, eggs and more. It includes names

One of the stops during last year’s Farm to Fork dinner in Mason City was 1910 Grille, where Chef Kurt received rave reviews for the entrée he prepared with local ingredients. of local food buyers, such as grocers and restaurants, who are buying more locally produced foods. The guide also lists farmers markets throughout north Iowa, along with dates and times of operation. The 2014 Buy Fresh, Buy Local guide should be out by the end of May and will be available at area Extension offices, libraries, chambers of commerce and from producers. Other tools Healthy Harvest uses to spread its message include its website,, where people can go to find local food, as well as news and upcoming events. The

site also features resources for local food producers, such as information on food safety and processing. More ways to buy Getting the word out about local food is just the first step. “Ultimately, people want to move beyond just talking about it,” said Libbey. “They want opportunities to buy the food. Farmers markets are wonderful, but it’s still a fairly small portion of the population that’s purchasing in farmers markets.” To that end, Healthy Harvest is also working with local food buyers, including grocery stores,

restaurants and schools, to find new opportunities to sell local food. This has led to the creation of a new business, North Iowa Fresh, LLC, which will work with food buyers on behalf of producers. Libbey says distribution is a big problem for small producers. A grocery store may be interested in promoting local food, but the store needs a consistent, long-term supply of produce. “It’s not like, ‘oh, you have some extra tomatoes today, I’ll take them,’” said Libbey. “They need producers to be planting for that continued on page 3

Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 3, Section 3

Growing the market for local food continued from page 2

opportunity.” She said local producers generally don’t have extensive acreage devoted to horticultural crops. “If we want to start to look at how to meet these opportunities, we need to look at how to pool the products - so products from several different farms come in looking consistent.” Another opportunity Healthy Harvest is looking at is direct to consumer sales, such as online ordering. North Iowa Fresh worked with several producers this Valentine’s Day to package together local products into gift baskets, which were sold on the organization’s website, Libbey says that kind of project is good practice for figuring out how they can put together producers’ products and market them. “It’s a totally new approach to local food, and we want to build on that,” said Libbey. She says some food co-ops in Iowa have websites which function like online farmer’s markets, where people can order whichever local produce they like. She says something like that may be possible in north Iowa down the road.

Healthy Harvest put on a number of workshops and meetings for producers this winter. The organization has a calendar of upcoming workshops on its website at Making progress Healthy Harvest of North Iowa was started in 2011, and Libbey says they’ve made significant strides in finding new partners over the last three years. She notes that the local organization is one of about 14 groups statewide which are focused on the local food effort. She says their work is also part of a larger local food trend going on nationwide, and there’s a lot of collaboration and sharing of ideas. Healthy Harvest currently lists about 40 local food producers in its Buy Fresh, Buy Local guide, but the number of producers appears to be

growing. Libbey says she’s had several conversations in the last few months with people interested in getting involved with the local food guide. “I think people see opportunity,” said Libbey. “It’s a constant effort back and forth – trying to grow the market and trying to grow the producers.” The organization also provides workshops for producers, and they’re looking at doing some introductory classes next winter to help people who are new to this type of agriculture. Mary Walk of Linden Hill Farm near Thompson is one of the local producers involved with Healthy

Harvest. She started her CSA farm in 2012 as a parttime venture, and she plans to serve 10 shareholders this growing season. She says her locally-grown produce has been well received. “All of my customers seem to be very satisfied,” said Walk. Walk says Healthy Harvest is a valuable resource for her to turn to with questions or problems. “They have excellent resources for any questions that you have, as far as doing marketing or production practices,” said Walk. She says there are more and more regulations these days when it comes to food safety, and Healthy Harvest is helping by sponsoring classes on those

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 4, Section 3

World Soy Foundation’s Acre Challenge campaign recognizes top supporting states The World Soy Foundation (WSF), the philanthropic arm of the American Soybean Association (ASA), recognizes the top three supporting states of the Acre Challenge Campaign since early March. These states are helping the WSF to continue reducing malnutrition through the power of soy in the new year. The Acre Challenge, a fundraising campaign started by farmers FOR farmers, is a way they can help alleviate hunger and malnutrition around the world by donating the value of an acre of soybeans. The campaign begins Oct. 1 and runs for a full year. Just one acre of soybeans can make a life-changing difference. Did you know that one acre can be used to make over 43,000 servings of soymilk? That’s enough to feed over 100 children every day for an entire year! So far this year, over 285 donors from 30 states have accepted the challenge

and donated an acre to the WSF, showing huge growth since the early years of the Acre Challenge—back in 2009 at this time, the total number of donors had only reached 77 individuals from 17 states. And, without further ado, the number one supporting state so far in this year’s WSF Acre Challenge is Iowa! In the past five months, Iowa farmers have given over $13,200 in support of the WSF’s mission. Roy Bardole, an Iowa farmer and WSF supporter says: “A child starved of protein will grow up to be less than they could be. It’s my responsibility as a producer to contribute to a better tomorrow with a generation that can think and reason better. By donating the value of just an acre of soybeans, I can make a difference.” Coming in second for top Acre Challenge supporters are the farmers of Illinois, raising nearly

$7,300. Farmers from Illinois know their crop can be a part of the solution to global malnutrition, and have a history of strong support for the Acre Challenge Campaign. Finally, coming in a close third is Missouri— raising just over $7,000 so far. It is because of the support of great states like Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, that the WSF had record fundraising

totals over the winter months! This support allows the Foundation to continue doing even more great work in the future to reduce malnutrition through the power of soy. The Acre Challenge isn’t finished yet, though. To continue helping the Foundation, and get your

state to the top of the list, simply calculate the value of an acre of soybeans in your operation (yield multiplied by price) and give the gift of protein today! Make your donation by visiting www. or sending your check to: World Soy Foundation; 12125 Woodcrest Executive Drive, Suite 100; St. Louis, Mo. 63141.

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USDA announces efforts to expand support for small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers In remarks at the National Farmers Union National Convention, March 10, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new and expanded efforts to connect small- and mid-sized farmers and ranchers with USDA resources that can help them build stronger businesses, expand to reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations. “The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape,” said Vilsack. “USDA is taking a hard look at our existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes. We’ve adjusted policies, strengthened programs and intensified outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers. These producers are critical to our country’s agricultural and economic future.” Efforts include improved access to USDA resources, revised risk management tools that better fit the needs of smaller producers, additional support for hoop houses, and expanded collection of valuable market news information. USDA is also introducing a series of education tools focusing on opportunities for farmers engaged in local and regional food systems. In addition, USDA field staff will be boosting their outreach efforts to small and midsized farmers and ranchers. More information about tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers will be rolled out in the coming months, including information about access to capital, risk management, food safety, and locating market opportunities on USDA’s Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources

webpage. The new efforts announced by the Secretary include: Access To Capital •Changes to the Farm Storage and Facility Loan (FSFL) Program to help small and midsized fruit and vegetable producers access the program for cold storage and related equipment like wash and pack stations. Diversified and smaller fruit and vegetable producers, including Community •Supported Agriculture programs, are now eligible for a waiver from the requirement that they carry crop insurance or NAP coverage when they apply for a FSFL loan. FSFL can also be used to finance hay barns and grain bins. •Funding for producers under the popular microloan program. USDA launched the microloan program to allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process. Since their debut in 2013, USDA has issued more than 4,900 microloans totaling $97 million. •Funding for hoop houses to extend the growing season. Hoop houses provide revenue opportunities while also promoting conservation for small and midsized farmers. The hoop house cost share program began as a pilot in 2010. Since then, more than 10,000 hoop houses have been contracted. USDA will soon announce an additional $15 million for hoop house development in persistent poverty counties in nineteen states as part of USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative. Risk Management •Developing tools to help small and midsized farmers and ranchers make sound financial deci-

sions as they plan for their future. USDA is developing a whole farm insurance policy that will better meet the needs of highly-diversified producers, particularly small and midsized fruit and vegetable growers. Using new tools provided by the Farm Bill, USDA is working to reduce crop insurance costs for beginning farmers and ranchers. And organic producers will benefit from the elimination of a previously-required five percent surcharge on crop insurance premiums. Locating Market Opportunities •USDA’s Farm to School Program has put seven new Farm to School Coordinators on the ground in regional offices to help build direct relationships between small and mid-sized producers and school districts. One priority area for Farm to School is creating more opportunities for small and mid-sized livestock and poultry producers. Since 2013, USDA has invested nearly $10 million in Farm to School grants that support schools as they purchase from local and regional sources. In the 2011-2012 school year alone, schools spent nearly $355 million on local and regional food purchases. •Expanded price, volume, supply and demand information through Market News. Market News is now collecting price data on grass-fed beef to arm producers will real pricing information from the sector. Market News will also soon begin collecting data about local food prices and volume, valuable to small and mid-sized producers engaged in that marketplace. Market News provides real time price, volume, supply, and demand information for produc-

ers to use in making production and marketing decisions. Access to timely, unbiased market information levels the playing field for all producers participating in the marketplace. •Broadened the National Farmers Market Directory to include CSAs, on-farm stores and food hubs. This information will help small and mid-sized producers find new market opportunities. USDA will begin collecting data to update the directory for the 2014 season this spring. The USDA National Farmers Market Directory receives over 2 million hits annually. Food Safety •Launched pilot projects in five states to help small and midsized farmers achieve Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification. GAP certification indicates farmers have met food safety standards required by many retail buyers. Under these pilot programs, small and mid-sized producers will be able to share the costs and fees associated with the certification process as a group. Group GAP efforts are being developed in partnership with small and mid-sized producer groups in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Pennsylvania and Missouri. Educational Resources And Outreach •Created a Learning Guide Series for small and mid-sized producers to help them navigate available USDA resources, available on the Know Your •Farmer, Know Your Food website. The first in this series will be for small and mid-sized livestock and poultry producers. Additional Learning Guides will be released later this year. USDA field staff and StrikeForce teams will increase

outreach to small and mid-sized producers using the Learning Guides •Launched Small Scale Solutions for Your Farm, a series of educational resources designed for both small livestock and fruit and vegetable producers. This includes tips on simple management activities such as planting cover crops to complex structural practices such as animal waste management systems or innovative irrigation devices 2014 Farm Bill The recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill provides USDA with more direct resources to support small and mid-sized farmers, including: •Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides grants to organizations that train, educate and provide outreach and technical assistance to new and beginning farmers on production, marketing, business management, legal strategies and other topics critical to running a successful operation. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $100 million total to BFRDP over the next 5 years. •Value-Added Producer Grant Program was modified to allow USDA to better target small and mid-sized family farms, beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers, and veterans. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $63 million over the next 5 years. •Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is expanded to support both direct-toconsumer opportunities and other supply chain projects such as food hubs. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $30 million annually.

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 6, Section 3

2014 Farm Bill streamlines, consolidates conservation programs The 2014 Farm Bill is streamlining key conservation programs while investing about $18.7 billion in conservation programs offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service over the next five years. The bill provides about $3.4 billion for fiscal 2014 for NRCSadministered programs. “The new Farm Bill continues to equip farmers, ranchers and forest landowners with the tools they need to address resource concerns while helping the environment,” said Iowa State Conservationist Jay Mar. “NRCS is moving swiftly to get the consolidated and expanded programs implemented.” A comparison of programs included in the 2008 and 2014 bills is available at qtFN7P. Current contracts

enrolled in Farm Bill programs are not affected. Key program changes include: • Financial assistance programs: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, will absorb the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program and make similar practices available. The Conservation Stewardship Program and Agricultural Management Assistance will be continued. • Easement programs: The agency’s key easement programs will be merged into a new program called the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, or ACEP. ACEP includes the former Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program and Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program. Funding for wetland and grassland protection

expired Sept. 30, 2013, and the 2014 Farm Bill reinstates funding for these critical efforts under ACEP. • Partnership programs: The agency’s regional conservation efforts have a home in a new program – the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Critical conservation areas for this new program will be designated by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. NRCS will also select project areas at the state and national level. To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda. gov/GetStarted or a local USDA service center. For more on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda. gov/FarmBill

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 7, Section 3

U.S., Canadian Pork Industries Collaborate with Feed Industry, Others on PEDV Des Moines - More than 60 people representing the U.S. and Canadian pork, feed and other allied industries recently participated in a meeting on the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) hosted by the National Pork Board, and in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Producers, in Des Moines, Iowa. Although the disease does not affect humans or pork safety, it has infected and killed millions of young pigs on farms of all sizes in 27 states since May 2013 and in four Canadian provinces since January. “Our main goal was to bring a group of people together to help us agree on research needs related to PEDV and feed systems so that we can get answers to ongoing questions as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and tech-

nology at the National Pork Board. “We’ve been working on PEDV research and collaborating with all porkindustry stakeholders since the disease was discovered here, and we’ll continue doing that to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs.” The meeting participants, made up of producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, academics and government and association officials, also shared what’s currently known about PEDV, including transmission routes, possible vectors and current testing limitations. The group reiterated that PEDV is not a human health or food safety issue and agreed the virus is of Asian origin genetically, but its direct pathway to North America remains unknown. “The feed and ingredient associations appreciate the National Pork Board and pork industry for organizing this important roundtable discussion,” said Richard Sellers, senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA).

“The research agenda outcome from the meeting is one we are optimistic will assist in investigatingthis devastating disease more in depth, helping to develop mitigation steps and communicating to those in our respective industries.” During the day-long session, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered information about the agency’s pathways analysis that seeks to identify and describe pathways that exotic viral pathogens of swine may enter the country. The Canadian participants shared their PEDV experiences and actions taken this year, and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians presented its initial survey of early PEDV cases. In addition, participants learned results of veterinary investigations in several states and heard what the feed, feed ingredient and rendering industries are doing to enhance their biosecurity programs and mitigate risk. “After taking all of this information into consideration, the group agreed that there are multiple ways for pigs to become infected via a fecal-

oral route, including environmental, transportation, feed systems and other vectors,” Sundberg said. The top research priorities agreed upon by the group are: 1) to investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds, 2) to conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain, 3) to develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures and 4) to continue to investigate the risk of feed and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S. “If feed is a factor in the transfer of PEDV, based on past research we know that there are specific time and temperature combinations that should inactivate the virus,” Sundberg said. “However, there are many variables that can affect feed, including post-processing contamination, which is another area that must be carefully controlled even if inactivation occurs.” David Fairfield, vice president of feed services for

the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), said, “This meeting ilustrates the ongoing commitment that all participants in the pork industry have in eliminating PEDV. The dialogue was constructive and transparent, and facilitated a better understanding on what is known and not known about the disease. NGFA believes the feed-related research priorities identified during the meeting are appropriate and will provide important information that can be used as part of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate PEDV.” To date, the Pork Checkoff has funded 17 PEDVrelated research projects totaling nearly $1.7 million. The Institute for Feed Research and Education, AFIA›s foundation, has pledged $100,000 toward PEDV research. AFIA’s Sellers added, “To show our dedication, industry groups are committing resources and funding to the research effort and will continue to communicate updates to those affected in order to minimalize further effects.”

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Agriculture - April 2014 - Page 8, Section 3

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