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AG Mag Southwest Iowa

Still Standing

4-H continues to thrive locally with non-traditional program offerings

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CROP OUTLOOK: What’s the forecast for 2017? BUDGET BATTLE: Federal funding for ag in danger? A Publication of Shaw Media

Summer 2017 AG Mag

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Index

AG Mag Southwest Iowa

Publisher Rich Paulsen Advertising Director Craig Mittag Managing Editor Scott Vicker Magazine Editor Jeff Rogers Page Design Jeff Rogers Reporters & Photographers Carter Eckl, Pam Eggemeier, Alex Felker, Hilary Ferrand, Bailey Poolman, Scott Vicker, and Jake Waddingham

COVER STORY PAGE 7

4-H changes with times The organization has remained vital with area youths by finding non-traditional activities to draw them in.

Published by Creston News Advertiser 503 W. Adams St. Creston, IA 50801 641-782-2141

Articles and advertisements are the property of Creston News Advertiser. No portion of the Southwest Iowa Ag Mag may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of Creston News Advertiser. The information in this magazine is believed to be accurate; however, Creston News Advertiser cannot and does not guarantee its accuracy. Creston News Advertiser cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this magazine.

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4 Summer 2017


Index Varied outlooks

How’s 2017 shaping up in the fields? It depends where in Southwest Iowa you are.

2017 FORECAST PAGE 20

Business is blooming at Berly and Blake Lavender Company in Creston.

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6 Summer 2017


Photo contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

Union County 4-H’ers Molly Gennaro (left) and Ayden Purdum hone their Lego skills during a spring 2017 practice event leading up to the Regional Jr. Lego League Showcase in June. Haley Jones, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Union County youth and outreach coordinator, has credited the Lego League with helping boost participation on 4-H the past two years. “It’s a way for them to meet friends that have the same interest as them,” she said.

FITTING IN

A mix of traditional, non-traditional activities work to retain youth interest in Southwest Iowa 4-H

BY ALEX FELKER For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

T

oday’s teenagers are more busy than their parents were when they were young. Fewer kids are growing up with an interest in agriculture. Both might be reasons for a decline in the number of kids participating in 4-H clubs and programs. So, where is 4-H headed in Southwest Iowa? While much of the organization’s programming continues to fall in familiar territory, area 4-H leaders and organizers are interested in taking a broader approach – and some have already begun experiencing success in doing so. CONTINUED ON 84

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Union County 4-H’er Maria Long positions a gear during Lego League practice. 4CONTINUED FROM 7 Dee Weeda, 4-H mom, volunteer and member of Union County Friends of 4-H, explains how she sees the organization moving forward. “When it originated, the purpose was to help young people learn basic life skills,” Weeda said. “One hundred years ago, the things you needed to learn to survive were Dee how to cook, how to raise Weeda livestock, how to grow a garden, how to grow a crop – and things have changed significantly. “So today,” she continued, “while those subjects are still learned and still taught because many people enjoy those as hobbies or professions, there’s so many more things. Crop production today now uses biotechnology and genetic engineering. So science, computers – all of those things are topics 8 Summer 2017

that young people can now explore through 4-H.” But is there still room for the more traditional activities? Showing animals, participating in county fairs? Activities like these have been, and continue to be the foundation for 4-H, which prides itself in teaching leadership, independence and moral virtue to its youth participants. Ben Adamson, 4-H dad and Union County Fair Board member, has raised two daughters in the Clover Kids and 4-H tradition. “My kids are all involved in beef projects,” Adamson said. “So they have market beef, and breeding beef – you know, showing cattle. “The first one (show) was kind of my idea. Because I grew up doing it, but now she’s (daughter Macy) 13, and she gets up every morning at 6:15 a.m. washing cows and feeding and everything else. And now my younger daughter (Ava) – just because the older

Photo contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

girl gets to do everything – she’s kind of followed suit and now she’s got her own projects. “This will be Ava’s first year for 4-H, but she’s been doing Clover Kids for three Ben years before that,” AdamAdamson son said. “It’s a learning opportunity for the kid to learn ‘Hey, this is what it takes to take care of an animal.’ I mean, Ava – who weighs 70 pounds soaking wet – she’ll show a steer that weighs 1,400 pounds at the county fair. And she leads it around, and does it all herself.” And what does Adamson want out of 4-H for his two daughters? “I hope it teaches them responsibility, number one,” he said. “And number two, I hope it teaches them leadership, and more life skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.” CONTINUED ON 94


4CONTINUED FROM 8 But from an organizer’s standpoint, it’s difficult to put together an attractive program of activities for a young Iowan generation that’s so different from those in the past. Jennie Hargrove, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Madison County youth coordinator explains the patterns she’s seen. Jennie “A lot of kids anymore are Hargrove really busy,” Hargrove said. “They’re in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, dance, gymnastics, sports – you know, they have a laundry list of things they do. And what I really try to communicate with people is that 4-H is as much as you want it to be. If you want your 4-H experience to be going to a handful of meetings and showing livestock, that can be your 4-H experience. That is a totally legitimate and valid 4-H experience. If your goal is to be in every single workshop, event and camp that we have to offer, that’s a valid and legitimate 4-H experience as well. “So I think people sometimes get really caught up in the traditional 4-H that’s so visible. Like when the newspapers cover the county fair, or when they cover huge events, they have a big picture of a steer on the front page, and so

people internalize that we’re only about those things. Which, for some people in the county that’s true – but we have a lot to offer for kids that aren’t interested in agriculture as well.” 4-H clubs across the state are experimenting with new programming and new modes of delivery to reach their target audiences. Haley Jones, ISU Extension and Outreach Union County youth and outreach coordinator, has already seen the success that’s possible. Union County’s 4-H enrollment has increased by 35 percent in the past three years – thanks in no small part to a variety of newly introduced programs. “Specifically, our Lego League program has increased (participation) the past two years,” Jones said. “This past year, we hosted the Lego League Jr. Showcase event for the regional area. And this past fall, we actually competed at Council Bluffs for the regional for the fourth through eighth grades competitively. Lego League is a great way for kids that maybe aren’t interested in the agricultural, animal side of things – but ones that are interested in the science, technology aspect. Lego League is outstanding for them. It’s a way for them to meet friends that have the same interest as them. “So while the focus of 4-H is still there,” Jones said, “it has definitely changed over the years, even from when I was in

4-H as a kid. The program itself has come up with ways to cater to our youth of today. And you and I both know that that’s very different than how we were when we grew up. Haley “In our county, in our Jones rural area,” Jones continued, “showing animals and being involved in livestock, especially in our county fair, will always be a big component. And that is wonderful, because there is a lot of leadership and hard work and responsibility that can be gained from raising and showing and prepping animals. But my goal is to broaden everybody’s idea of 4-H. Because 4-H is so much more than just the animals side of it. There’s something for everyone in 4-H, and if you share your idea, then we’ll find a place for it. We’ll find where you fit in.” But what does all of this mean for the kids? According to 4-H volunteer Weeda, it’s all about forming connections. “I mean, most of the kids that I’ve worked with through the years don’t remember what ribbon they won at the fair,” she said. “But they sure remember going to the fair and making new friends. And the water fights that they have, or – I don’t know – running around the rodeo. It’s just a lot of fun.”

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Business is blooming Creston couple kickstarts lavender company BY BAILEY POOLMAN For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

T

Bundles of fresh lavender are ready for purchase during the Creston Farmers Market in July. Blake and Kimberly Lauffer own Berly and Blake Lavender Company and plant, grow and harvest the lavender by hand before turning the flowers into beauty, health and wellness products such as bar soap, face wash and lotions. (Bailey Poolman/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag)

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he light aroma of lavender oil wafts throughout the small laundry room in the basement, bunches of purple flowered stems hanging upside down from the ceiling. The lavender scent continues through the open space into a small work space on the north end of the basement, where a wall of ingredients hides a countertop covered in purple bricks of chamomile soap and black-and-white charcoal face bars. CONTINUED ON 134

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4CONTINUED FROM 11 The work spaces belong to Blake and Kimberly Lauffer of Creston, the couple who kickstarted Berly and Blake Lavender Company. “Really, we were just looking for different business ideas,” Kimberly said. “I used a lot of lavender. Lavender is good if you have bronchial infections if you drink it as a tea.” In 2013, the couple began sourcing products to begin the business. By 2014, they planted the perennial purple flower in a plot of land and grew it themselves. “My parents farmed. My family has farmed for a number of years. My dad retired from the post office and he is farming now, just very small scale,” Blake said. “I’ve grown up farming. In high school and college I worked for a farmer. So, there’s background.” Blake, who is from the area, and Kimberly, formerly of Montana, moved to Creston about 10 years ago. They have five children: Jeanette, 18, Hailey, 10, Gabe, 7, Ben, 6, and Easton, 1. Blake is a juvenile court officer for Adair, Adams, Ringgold and Union counties, and Kimberly is a wedding planner. “It was not really family-life conducive, so we were trying to find a way to scale back,” Kimberly said. “A friend of Blake’s suggested doing a lavender farm, and we were like, ‘Yeah, OK.’ So

Bailey Poolman/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

Blake and Kimberly Lauffer smile for a photo with products of their business, Berly and Blake Laventer Company in Creston. then he started looking into it.” The demand was there, and after the 2014 planting year, the lavender business blossomed. “We did a lot of internet research and then Kim talked to a lavender farmer in Washington,” Blake said. “In the begin-

ning, it was trial and error because it takes a certain soil type and drainage, and the first year we struggled with that a little bit. But, since then, we got it figured out.” CONTINUED ON 144

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AG Mag

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4CONTINUED FROM 13 The only issue currently is the Iowa winter, which can get deeply cold and wet and cause mass crop loss, which has happened to a lavender farm in the Loess Hills near Council Bluffs. The couple have a plot of lavender that’s hand harvested several times a year. The first harvest this year was in June, when they harvested both forms of lavender. One type will also have a second harvest in late August or early September. “As we’re cutting, you use a hand sickle when you cut it, and then we bind it,” Kimberly said. They sell bundles of fresh and dried lavender. Or, they strip buds off the stems, sift the plants into a more pure product and use the product several different ways. They grind the petals or infuse the plant into an oil for use in the various beauty, health and wellness products. Eventually, the couple plans to turn the lavender into essential oil to be used in tinctures and salves. Until then, Blake and Kimberly make clay-based face bars which include ground oatmeal or charcoal, various soaps that include different items such as chamomile and locally sourced goat’s milk, and lotions. They

Bailey Poolman/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

Marbled white and purple lavender soap are displayed next to deep purple moisturizing soap bars at the Berly and Blake Lavender Company booth at Creston Farmers Market in July. Kimberly and Blake Lauffer started the business in 2014, after cultivating their first batch of lavender the year before. sell online and at the Creston Farmers Market weekly at McKinley Park in Creston. “Our end goal is not just to have fun-scented things, which is nice,”

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Iowa’s mobile tech revolution

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Apps give farmers a new edge in the fields, but rural Wi-Fi an obstacle BY HILARY FERRAND For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

F

rom Creston to Kenya, farmers are using smartphones and tablets for up-to-the-minute data and analytics to improve efficiency and cut costs. App appeal continues to grow, despite practical limitations for farmers in southern Iowa. nnn Fast and thorough data analysis A favorite app among local farmers is Climate

FieldView by The Climate Corporation. It’s a mapping system that plugs into the planner and harvest monitors. It also can tap into data from sprayers and other equipment. “It’s absolutely improving production,” said Blake Reynolds, owner of Reynolds Ag Solutions in Indianola. “It maps (the farmers’) past planted acres, all their harvest acres and then it ties into a climate app that helps them make decisions. They’re two different apps, but they work together.” CONTINUED ON 164

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4CONTINUED FROM 15 With updated and historical data at hand, Climate FieldView presents a good example of how mobile applications can make it easier for producers to make cost-effective decisions. Expert advice with the push of a button Other applications provide valuable services to rural areas, reducing down time and overall operating expenses. Waukee-based AgriSync links farmers with ag advisers capable of diagnosing and solving problems without traveling to their farms. Whether a monitor goes out on an essential piece of equipment, or a planter isn’t performing the way it should, farmers have instant access to experts capable of solving the problem in shorter time, and at lesser expense, through the AgriSync mobile app. CONTINUED ON 174

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4CONTINUED FROM 16 The company is putting the tech advantage to use in a way older products often miss. Practical limitations in ag technology “It’s good information, it’s faster, but at the end of the day, farming is a lot about experience,” said Clarke County ISU Extension Office Field Agronomist Aaron Saeugling. While more farmers are adapting to new technology, Saeugling said it might place some producers at a disadvantage if they’re not cautious. “Sometimes they put a little more emphasis on the technology than what should be applied,” he said. “They look at that as a really credible source of information. Experience is often the best teacher.” When used responsibly, products like the WISRAN software-as-a-service platform have shown to produce real savings in time and

money. One of six participants in the Iowa AgriTech Accelerator, running July 10 through October 19, WISRAN increases profits for users by an average of 2 to 5 percent. Farmers in southern Iowa have one big obstacle to overcome before reliably tapping into these benefits – the dismal state of rural Wi-Fi connections. The future of rural Wi-Fi “The future of economic development in Iowa and across the country depends, in large part, on access to the internet and mobility,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa. Together with Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois, Loebsack introduced the Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act to encourage wireless development throughout rural America. There’s no doubt securing reliable wireless coverage is an essential step needed to allow Iowa farmers the full advantage of mobile apps developed for the ag market.

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AG Mag

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A sign for Douglas Show Lambs sits in the front yard of the Douglases’ home in rural Corning. Tony and Trena Douglas raise show lambs and their son, Paul, shows them during fair season. RIGHT: Paul, 11, blows out the leg hair of a lamb he planned to show during the Adams County Fair in July. Paul was involved in Clover Kids and Discovery Kids before becoming a member of 4-H.

PREPPIN SHOW PHOTO STORY BY BAILEY POOLMAN FOR SOUTHWEST IOWA AG MAG LEFT: Paul sets up and holds his lamb’s head during a practice session prior to the Adams County Fair sheep show in July. Paul has been showing animals since he was 6 years old, learning from his father, Tony, who also showed lambs as a child. RIGHT: This lamb flares his ears out while walking in the grass. Paul prepares lambs by washing and drying them, brushing and blowing out their leg hair and practicing setting them up. 18 Summer 2017


NG FOR WTIME

ABOVE: Paul attempts to harness a show lamb to walk it in July. He travels across Iowa doing various shows to help prepare him and his lambs. BELOW: Paul watches as his father, Tony, assists in cleaning up a lamb’s leg. Paul cleans the animals and practices walking them and setting them up to prepare for the show against other 4-H participants.

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NOT ALL BLUE SKIES Spring rains, summer dry spell making for a tricky growing season

C

BY SCOTT VICKER For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

onditions during the planting and growing seasons have varied across Southwest Iowa, leaving predictions for the 2017 harvest season varied based on location. Regardless of location, farmers agree the planting season was wet, but conditions in June and July have caused some problems.

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“For our area, it (wet spring) didn’t affect it that much. It was a little wet earlier, but we don’t usually start planting until after the first of May,” said Matt Daughton of Ringgold County. “What’s affecting it now is the dry weather we had in June. I feel it’s put a lot of stress on (crops).” CONTINUED ON 214

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4CONTINUED FROM 20 In Clarke County, Jim Jamison is predicting lower yields than recent years and low to medium prices after what he called a “poor” planting season. “We were wet early, and we only had about five days to put the corn in,” Jamison said. “We had a real short window. When the water did shut off, she shut off, and we had trouble getting enough moisture to get the beans up out of the ground.” Both Daughton and Jamison said many farmers in their areas shifted more toward soybeans this year. Daughton stuck to his normal mix, but knows several Ringgold County farmers put beans on beans because the input cost was lower. In Madison County, Scott Palmer said his timing was perfect this year. “If we get the rainfall, I’m going to have pretty good yields in my area,” Palmer said. “Everything I planted went in real nice. But, I might have missed a few rains that other people are getting. Last night (July 10), Des Moines gets it and south of me gets it, but I got 1/10 (of an inch of rain).” Still, Palmer is looking at having one of the best crops he’s ever had. He’s hoping for 170 bushels of corn per acre and around 52 bushels of soybeans per acre.

Daughton expects prices to be low once again this year, however. “Around our area, the same number of acreage is there, but there’s still grain in storage in our area,” Scott he said. “People still have Palmer grain on hand from last year. The prices won’t go up any and you’ll still have crop coming in, so I don’t figure it’s going to change much.” This year’s harvest won’t be nearly as good as last year’s for Jamison. “It definitely will not be as good as last year, even if it did start raining,” Jamison said. “We’re going to have to have water to even finish this one out at normal or below normal. We just need water.” Daughton said he believes the dry June and early July has only set back his crops. He’s hopeful a nice fall will help his crops catch back up. Palmer also remains hopeful. “There’s so many variables. You could get a heat wave or something and burn the corn up before it gets completely made,” Palmer said. “But that’s what I’m expecting (170 bushels per acre).” Palmer’s biggest concern when it comes to prices is getting young farmers started.

“Get the prices up and get the inputs lower – I’m just doing it for practice it seems like now,” he said. “I don’t see how any young person could possibly – it’s about like anything - we’re Matt running out of welders, Daughton running out of mechanics. We’re going to run out of farmers before too long.” The price of corn has fallen or been relatively stagnant since 2013, when the market year average was $6.89 per bushel. That figure dropped to $4.46 in 2014, $3.70 in 2015 and $3.61 last year. The USDA estimates the current marketing year to range from $3.25 to $3.45 per bushel. Gary Schnitkey, an agriculture economist at the University of Illinois, said the midpoint of that range is often used as a price forecast, in this case being $3.35. The USDA projects the market year average to stay at a steady $3.35 through 2019. “A relatively large change in supply/ demand or structural change likely is needed to get corn prices above $4 per bushel,” Schnitkey said. The average for soybean prices is expected to grow from $8.95 to $9.40 and stay flat for the next 2 years as well.

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manda Stutzman has seen firsthand how fast the organic food craze has taken off, first as an employee of Whole Foods and now through her work with Bridgewater Farm, a 40-acre certified organic farm in Adair County. “I think it’s nice seeing all the newer people since organic is getting so much new drive. It’s a great fad to follow,” Stutzman said. “It was great to see so many people who were curious about it and wanted to come in and learn about why you would spend more money on food. nnn “What is so much better about this strawberry for $7 versus the other quart of strawberries you get at Wal-Mart for $3? I think people are really starting to think about that and learn that what you put into your food, the way you treat it, what you put into the land directly affects the quality of the food, which directly affects the health of your body.” CONTINUED ON 244

Photos by Scott Vicker/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

Workers in the Bridgewater Farm tent assist customers at the Creston Farmers Market in McKinley Park. The Creston Farmers Market is one of four markets Bridgewater Farm travels to. ON PAGE 22: Tyler Raasch wraps a string around a tomato plant to keep it standing in one of several high tunnels constructed on his family’s Bridgewater Farm property. Tyler’s father, Dale, estimated there are about 4,000 tomato plants on the farm.

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4CONTINUED FROM 23 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Certified Organic Survey released in September 2016, sales of certified organic food were up 13 percent from 2014 to 2015. Bridgewater Farm, operated by Dale Raasch and his son, Tyler, became certified organic about five years ago and has grown in its operations since then. Being a certified organic farm means Bridgewater Farm cannot use chemicals on its land. Any drift from chemical spray used on surrounding farms can set the operation back three years, as the farm has to go through the three-year transition phase again if the land is contaminated with chemicals. Still, the Raasch family – Dale and Marcie, Tyler and his girlfriend Amanda – see plenty of reason to continue farming organically. Tyler, wearing a baseball hat with the word “AGAPE” written across it, smeared

Scott Vicker/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

A worn sign greets visitors at the entrance of Bridgewater Farm in Adair County, with a grove of fruit trees sitting in the background. Dale Raasch has been farming on the property for 40 years. with dirt from working on the farm all day, sees a bright future for organic farms. “I think the future is bright for farmers who want to transition into organics,” he said. “We import way more grain crops than we grow here for organic. We’re importing from Turkey and eastern Europe. There’s

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vey, the United States had 12,818 certified organic farms producing and selling $6.2 billion in organic commodities in 2015. However, only California and Wisconsin had more than 1,000 certified organic farms. Washington, Iowa and several northeastern states had between 500 and 1,000 certified organic farms. “There’s just not many other people (farming organically),” Dale said. “A lot of people are switching to organic food. The biggest thing is trying to educate the public on conventional versus organic food, trying to get them to realize why there’s a difference in the price.” Of the 40 acres on Bridgewater Farm, about 20 acres are certified organic alfalfa hay that the Raasch family feeds to the livestock. Some of the hay is also sold as square bales and large round bales. The other 20 acres includes fruit trees and vegetable production.


Scott Vicker/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

The Raasch family, (from left) Marcie, Dale and Tyler Raasch, and Amanda Stutzman stand in an asparagus field on their certified organic farm in Bridgewater. Seen in the background is one of several high tunnels on the farm.

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4CONTINUED FROM 24 Bridgewater farm harvests spinach, radishes, spring mix, arugula, kale, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, peppers and tomatoes, with Dale estimating the farm includes about 4,000 tomato plants. The Raasch family also grows strawberries, black and red raspberries, peaches, pears, apples, plums, watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini and squash. As operations have grown, with Bridgewater Farm traveling to four farmers markets and selling produce to area Hy-Vee and Fareway stores, Dale said he’s trying to produce more food on less ground. “That’s more of the key than getting bigger,” he said. “You can get bigger and if you’re not efficient, it doesn’t help you at all. And we’re trying to get more equipment to be able to cut our costs down, so we don’t have to do so much hand labor things that take longer.” Dale and Tyler have two tractors, a cultivator, wheel hoe and use plastic mulch to be more efficient. Tyler has used Facebook and Instagram to learn what organic farms on the coasts are doing and implement those methods on Bridgewater Farm. The plastic mulch was one such idea. By using the 4-feet-wide plastic mulch, time spent weeding was dramatically cut down. Now, the plastic mulch is laid

Scott Vicker/Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

Amanda Stutzman picks mulberries from a tree on Bridgewater Farm in Adair County. Bridgewater Farm is a certified organic farm that grows various fruits and vegetables. over the ground and a hole is cut into it, which the plant is planted into. Then, the only weeding that needs to be done is in the hole cut out for the plant. Farming organically is a labor-intensive endeavor. But it is one the Raasch family enjoys and plans to keep doing as the organic food trend continues to boom. “It’s great to see, even at the farmers market, people who get to come up and ask questions about it and get excited

about it,” Stutzman said. “They’re excited about what we’re doing. They’re able to support local and buy something that is good for them. Without a doubt, they know there’s nothing that’s going to hurt you from this food. “Just being out here every day, providing that option for people and having the opportunity to meet people and educate them and get them excited about organic food is awesome. It keeps me out here.”

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Colorfully efficient Purple corn promotes improvements in ethanol production BY CARTER ECKL For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

C

orn you can track by the color of its kernel? That’s what Steve and Susan Basler are growing in their fields in Taylor County. The corn is grown just like every other bushel across the Midwest, except this particular type of corn is developed with an enzyme (alpha amylase) to be turned into ethanol more effectively. It is called Enogen corn and its seed is produced by Syngenta. CONTINUED ON 284

Steve Basler inspects corn that contains purple kernels, showing that it is Enogen corn. Enogen corn is produced by Syngenta and helps produce ethanol more efficiently. (Photo contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag)

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4CONTINUED FROM 27 The corn will grow with purple kernels scattered through each ear, notifying growers and purchasers it is not a regular ear of corn. The amount of colored kernels can vary from a few scattered kernels to close to the entire ear. This happens because Enogen corn has the enzyme directly in the corn kernel. The design behind the purple corn is to create a cleaner, easier-to-produce ethanol fuel. This particular corn requires less energy in production to turn into ethanol. Since 54 percent of Iowa’s corn crop goes toward ethanol production, Enogen corn allows ethanol plants to save energy. Ethanol companies have found that the Enogen corn – once it is mashed – is 50 percent less viscous than standard yellow corn. This means it requires less energy for the mash to be pumped through plants. “The consistency of what they have today is a lot like oatmeal; where we are starting to use Enogen corn, it turns to lemonade,” said Rick Cabbage, an area and account lead with Syngenta for Southwest Iowa. With a less viscous result, pumping the mash through production is easier. This is possible because the enzyme accelerates the conversion of starch to sugar in an ethanol plant. Based on Syngenta’s calculations, in a 100-million gallon plant, the Enogen corn enzyme, over the course of production, can save enough energy to light 10,900 homes and heat 5,600 homes for a year. The efficiency of the corn’s production goes beyond that. It is estimated to save 68 million gallons of water and reduce carbon dioxide emission by 106 million pounds, or the equivalent of 4,500 passenger cars from the road, each year. Farmers, such as the Baslers, are incentivized to grow the GMO corn with premiums. The dollar amount for the premiums depends on what month the crop is delivered. “We say 40 cents on average,” Cabbage

Photo contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

An ear of Enogen corn, recognizable by the purple kernels known as Enogen Value Trackers to notify farmers and producers of the enzyme used to break down starches found in Enogen

said. “There might be some 35-cent month’s, there might be some 45-cent months, (ethanol plants) just have to average 40 cents.” The grow does have some quirks to it. All the Enogen corn must be strategically grown and harvested. The corn must be stored and shipped away from any other type of corn to avoid cross-contamination. There are guidelines to ensure neighboring grows are not interfered with. The reason is pollen from the Enogen corn can spread and affect other grows. “95 percent of the pollen travel, you catch it within the first 30 to 40 feet,” Cabbage said. “We want at least 30 feet of border around the outside perimeter of that field to be regular corn. It’ll catch 95 percent of the pollen, so you don’t infect anyone else’s corn.”

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“You have to have a certain size field. You have to have border rows around your field so that it’s protected,” Susan Basler said. “Cleaning out your combine, your planter so you’re not taking your planter to another field so you’re not cross-pollinating and contaminating that field.” The purple trail on the corn is called the Enogen Value Tracker, or EVT, by Syngenta. “If you are planting an Enogen field today, 5 percent of the plants will have this purple trait to it,” Cabbage said. “So, what it’s for it’ll mark it so 5 percent of those plants themselves will put an ear on that’ll look like Indian corn. It’ll be half purple, half yellow kernels and they cross-pollinate to the next plant, so you might find a plant three rows over that’ll have two purple kernels on it. By the time you harvest them, they’re noticeable.” Enogen corn has been used to feed cattle and is considered safe by Syngenta. “But for farmers, growing Enogen corn is about making one large sale instead of many smaller sales. “The point is it’s 100 percent bushel contracted toward the ethanol company,” Susan said. “Normally we sell by the bushel, but basically we are selling them our whole crop, every drop.” The strategy in planting Enogen corn is to put 100 percent pure Enogen corn seed in the center of the field. As the cross-pollination takes affect, the surrounding corn stalks will become closer to pure Enogen. Ethanol companies will hand out premiums only if the crop is at least 90 percent Enogen. “You’re planting 100 percent purity in the middle of the field,” Cabbage said. “Do your border rows and blend it in with the Enogen, so you’ll be at 90 percent and you’ll get the premium on your border rows too.” In 2015, Syngenta estimated 1,000 growers had planted Enogen corn across 225,000 acres in 10 states. In 2017, those numbers have almost doubled.


REASON TO WORRY? Trump’s budget blueprint includes deep ag cuts, but insiders confident Congress will come to farmers’ rescue BY PAM EGGEMEIER AND CARTER ECKL For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

T

he staunch support of agriculture last November helped put Donald Trump in the White House, but the president’s first proposed budget could have farmers rethinking their decision. The president says he can balance the federal budget in 10 years, and his proposed 2018 budget would hit agriculture hard. The proposed cuts include 21 percent to the Department of Agriculture, 36 percent to crop insurance, and $50 billion to ag subsidies in the next decade. CONTINUED ON 304

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4CONTINUED FROM 29 The USDA’s Rural Development programs would stand to lose $477 million in the Trump budget. Those programs bring funds to rural America for everything from infrastructure and technology upgrades to grants and loans for economic development and home purchases. The technology program has brought broadband services to an estimated 6 million Americans in rural areas. While the proposed ag cuts are severe, most of the responsibility for drawing up federal budgets falls to Congress. Early in the process, it appears farmers can again count on lawmakers to protect their interests. The House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee met in late June, producing a bill that basically ignored all of the proposed ag cuts. “The presidents’ budgets are just a blueprint that says here are the administration’s policy priorities,” said Adam Nielsen, director of national legislation and policy development at the Illinois Farm Bureau. “Congress will do what it wants based on what it hears from its constituents.” Nielsen said the overriding message in the Trump budget is that enough domestic cuts must be made to carry out the president’s promise to build up the military. Although Trump has

proposed a $54 billion increase to the defense budget, it falls short of expectations. The House and Senate Armed Services committees want an additional $37 billion designated for the military. Nielsen said many cuts, including to commodities programs, can be made only in the next farm bill. Hearings for reauthorizing the new bill have started in the ag committees of both chambers. The current version expires in September 2018. In the 2014 farm bill, $23 billion was cut from the Ag Department over a 10-year period. “Spending for subsidies is mandatory, but with the next farm bill there will be some pressure to keep what we have,” Nielsen said. While Nielsen said he is encouraged by what he’s hearing about ag spending in Congress, the fact remains that the Trump budget has pared more than 4 times the amount the farm lobby expected from ag. The deep cuts aren’t the best way of thanking farmers for their votes. “The president had a lot of support from farmers, and I think this proposed budget and some other actions have taken them by surprise,” Nielsen said. “The trade policy has left many in ag scratching their heads.” District 21 state Rep. Tom Moore, R-Griswold, said his biggest concern is getting back to tax coupling with the federal government. In 2015, tax cou-

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pling allowed farmers to expense purchases of up to $500,000. “As soon as we can, we’ve got to permanently couple with the federal government as far as that depreState Rep. ciation schedule is conTom Moore cerned,” Moore said. “That will open things up taxwise for farmers. That will open things up so that farmers can invest in new equipment. That spurs tax increases for the government as well as tax opportunities for farmers. I don’t see any effect that Trump’s policies are going to have on the federal coupling. “As soon as we get back to coupling, as far as the Republican caucus is concerned, that’s something we want to do as soon as possible.” Farmers are also anxious about the president’s talk on health care, trade and immigration policies. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the TransPacific Partnership and North American Free Trade Agreement. Farmers heard the talk during the campaign, but hoped much of it was just rhetoric and the U.S. wouldn’t walk away from the pacts. One-third of the nation’s farm income is generated by exports. CONTINUED ON 314

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Ryan Bailey, who farms in Ringold County, said that while “it’s kind of alarming that we don’t have trade deals with other countries right now,” he’s hopeful that new deals negotiated by the Trump administration will “be better for agriculture.”

4CONTINUED FROM 30 Trump has started negotiations with Mexico, but has threatened to leave NAFTA if the U.S. doesn’t get what it wants. In the last 15 years, Mexico’s imports of U.S. commodities have increased by 50 percent. Japan recently vaulted past Mexico to become the biggest buyer of U.S. corn, but Mexico’s imports of American corn still totaled $2.6 billion last year. “It’s kind of alarming that we don’t have trade deals with other countries right now,” said Ryan Bailey, a farmer in Ringgold County. “I think it’ll take a little time, but I think he will get some new deals worked out, and I’m hopeful that it’ll be better for agriculture.” Exiting trade deals would cut ties with some of the country’s biggest corn purchasers. “I know that trade regulations are a major concern for us. You know, when he basically cancelled that NAFTA agreement with Mexico, that brought a lot of angst as far as our corn dealings with Mexico because they’re a huge buyer of Iowa corn,” state Rep. Moore said. “But, I’m sure that if he cuts the budget the way he wants to cut the budget, I think everybody is going to be affected.”

Photo contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

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AG Mag

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Clearfield to Bangkok Southwest Iowa native Matt Kerns has life-changing international internship experience

BY JAKE WADDINGHAM For Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

A

passion for travel and a family tradition of caring for and raising animals on their farm north of Clearfield, Iowa, helped Matt Kerns live out a life-changing experience in Bangkok, Thailand. “I went over there with no expectations,� Kerns said. “I knew generally what I was going to be doing, but I didn’t set any high, lofty goals. Even if I did, the experience would have blown it out of the water.� CONTINUED ON 334

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their production there is just as modern as anything we have in America, especially with CP because it is a big, international company.” Kerns said one experience he was interested in trying to transfer back to the United States was the emphasis to convert farms to utilizing green energy. Cutting energy costs allows farms to be more price competitive. “As for comparisons between Iowa and Thailand, the biggest problem they have is their climate,” Kerns said. “It is very hot, a tropical climate. They joke they have three seasons, hot, hotter and hottest. I experienced the hottest of those. ... Pigs can’t sweat, so their buildings are engineered a little bit differently. Temperature is always a top priority there.”

Photos contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

After graduating from Iowa State University with his master’s in business administration and a bachelor’s in animal science, Matt Kerns of Clearfield, Iowa, took an internship with CP Foods in Bangkok, Thailand. He described the experience as a mix of work experience and global insight to the swine industry. 4CONTINUED FROM 32 The internship was with CP Foods, an agro-industrial and food conglomerate in Thailand. Kerns had a variety of experiences from spending a week working with a farrowing unit, then being in downtown Bangkok with the marketing team for 10 days before spending time on a shrimp farm.

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His experience also included time in CP Food’s university, where he helped students assess the differences between swine production in the United States versus Thailand. “Thailand is still considered a developing country, which you really don’t feel too much when you are in the cities, but once you get out and see the countryside, it gets very, very real,” Kerns said. “I would say

Background Kerns grew up on a farm north of Clearfield. His family raised about 500 sows, farrow to finish, and a small herd of angus cattle. His father and brother helped establish his interest in studying animals.

He attended Clearfield Elementary through fifth grade, completing his junior high and high school education at Mount Ayr Community High School in 2012. Kerns attended Iowa State University, where in December 2016 he completed his master’s in business administration and bachelor’s in animal science through a concurrent program. “He is very smart, hard working and a determined person,” said Leila Ammar, who worked with Kerns on his MBA team at ISU. “His passion and education for agriculture extends to many other areas of his life. During the MBA program, I knew I could count on him to do a great job on our projects.” The concurrent program allowed Kerns to combine his natural ability as a leader and intuition for business with his passion for animal science. The program allows students to work on their MBA in the morning, working around the undergraduate classes. CONTINUED ON 344

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4CONTINUED FROM 33 “I really think I grew personally because it is so much different than what I grew up around in the small town of Clearfield, where we don’t have a school anymore, just three churches and a bar,” Kerns said. “I think one of the biggest takeaways I had was to pay attention to my body language. When you have a language barrier and you have the absence of verbal communication, there are so many ways to portray what you are thinking or feeling without being able to actually say the words.” Unique opportunities In addition to his educational and work experience with EP, Kerns had some spare time to tour the country and learn more about its history and culture. One of his favorite, historic spots was visiting the ruins in Thailand’s ancient capital city, Ayutthaya.

“These cultures in southeast Asia have been around for thousands of years,” Kerns said. “A little more than a decade before America was even a country, there was an entire kingdom that lived, reigned for four centuries, was the most powerful force in southeast Asia and crashed.” Another trip highlight was the opportunity to spend time with elephants – one of Thailand’s biggest tourist attractions – and visit the islands to the south of the main peninsula. “By far, the best part of the experience was getting to visit with people,” Kerns said. In June, Kerns started a new position with Elanco Animal Health in Indianapolis, Indiana. He will spend 8 to 12 weeks at the headquarters before transfering to northwest Arkansas to work with the local poultry industry. His goal will be to help improve the facility management to maximize production.

Photo contributed to Southwest Iowa Ag Mag

One of Matt Kerns’ favorite experiences while abroad was learning about the history of southeastern Asia. He visited several palaces and ruins of former empires.

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AG Mag

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