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Practical Farmers Offer Winter Farminars

Practical Farmers Offer Winter Farminars

Practical Farmers of Iowa, an organization that advances profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture, will be hosting eight online seminars called Farminars Tuesdays, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. central standard time, from January 10 through March 13. Farminars provide an opportunity for farmers to learn from other farmers in the winter season without having to travel. Any computer with an Internet connection may be used to participate.

Kathy Barkalow, of Oxford, Iowa, has watched Practical Farmers of Iowa Farminars regularly this fall. "Farminars add value to your life; they give you a different perspective. I would highly recommend you watch them, even if you aren't a member of PFI," says Kathy. "There is a wide range of topics covered, from livestock to produce, and PFI's Farminars are very simple to participate in."

Many will feature a beginning farmer learning from an experience farmer

Many of the PFI winter Farminars feature a beginning farmer learning from a more experienced farmer. Other PFI Farminars will bring together multiple farm experts to present various perspectives on a topic. Participants log in to view the program live online and ask questions throughout the presentation in real time.

This season's programming includes a farmer and his accountant, vegetable farmers operating CSAs (community supported agriculture) programs, row crop and livestock farmers, graziers, farmer's market veterans and pastured poultry farmers. Topics include tax preparation, business feasibility, pricing, pest management, recordkeeping, farmer's market profitability, and adding small grains and livestock to a row crop farm.

To register and participate in these winter Farminars, go online and visit the website Recordings of 44 previous Farminars can also be viewed at this URL.

Practical Farmers of Iowa 2012 Winter Farminar Lineup

Tuesday, January 10, 7-8:30 p.m., "Tax Preparation Training for Farmers" with Jerry Peckumn and Leo Brooker, CPA

Farmer Jerry Peckumn and his CPA, Leo Brooker, talk about tax preparation basics and how to properly file farm business taxes. Topics covered will be guided by participant questions but will include business deductions, preparing tax documents for farm employees and recordkeeping tips to make tax season less stressful.

Jerry Peckumn is a row crop and livestock farmer who lives near Jefferson, IA. Before farming, Jerry provided agricultural banking services. He enjoys the native prairie on his land and is active in many organizations to improve the lives of farmers and their land stewardship.

Leo Brooker, Certified Public Accountant at Brooker and Co. in Jefferson, has been Jerry's tax advisor for the past 25 years.

Tuesday, January 17, 7-8:30 p.m., "Scale and Profit: A Financial Snapshot of Three CSAs, Featuring Blue Gate Farm, Fair Share Farm and Grinnell Heritage Farm
This Farminar is targeted to those currently operating or thinking about starting a CSA. It will help CSA farmers determine the proper scale for their CSA based on their skill level, farm size and markets. The presenters will cover profit potential, legal structure, goals, vision and more!
Three farm businesses will provide a financial comparison of CSAs of varying scales, including profit and loss and balance sheets. The presenters will participate in discussion with the audience about the pros and cons of their operations with respect to scale and markets.

Blue Gate Farm, near Chariton, IA is owned and managed as a sole proprietorship by Jill Beebout and Sean Skeehan. They market certified, naturally grown produce, eggs, homemade crafts, honey and hay. Customers can purchase their products at the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market, on their farm and through their 40-member CSA.

Fair Share Farm, Kearney, MO is managed as a Limited Liability Company by Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri. They began farming in 2003 and grow a wide range of sustainably raised products. Most of these products are sold through their 120-member CSA, which uses CSA member labor.

Grinnell Heritage Farm, near Grinnell, IA is owned and managed as a C-Corporation by Andrew and Melissa Dunham. Their produce and herbs are USDA certified-organic and are available at several Iowa farmer's markets and through their 220-member CSA. They also sell them wholesale to specialty grocers.

Tuesday, January 24, 7-8:30 p.m., "Insect Pest Management in Organic Vegetable Production" with Kate Edwards and Steve Pincus
Participants will learn organic-approved strategies to mitigate the damage caused by flea beetles, cucumber beetles, thrips, European corn borer, cabbage root maggot, and aphids.

Kate Edwards, an engineer-turned-farmer, is renting a small acreage near Solon, IA and plotting her growing and business strategies, which include selling through diverse farmer's market, wholesale markets and CSA markets. She is newly enrolled in Practical Farmers of Iowa's Savings Incentive Program.

Steve Pincus runs Tipi Produce with Beth Kazmar in south-central Wisconsin. In business since 1976, Tipi grows 45 acres of certified-organic vegetables, melons and berries for local wholesale and CSA. Steve and Beth have taught a range of topics at regional conferences and workshops. They have the background and experience to interpret scientific information for on-farm use.   

Tuesday, January 31, 7-8:30 p.m., "Profitable Recordkeeping: Simple Strategies for Keeping Better Records" with Joel Winnes and Ryan Herman
Designed with farm profitability in mind, this Farminar will focus on how to track expenses and income, and collect data that can help farmers make informed business decisions.

Joel Winnes is a beginning dairy farmer in northeast Iowa. He currently works for an organic, grass-based dairy near Waukon, IA and aspires to own his own farm someday. Joel is in his second year of the Savings Incentive Program offered by Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Ryan Herman is a grazier on a beef farm in northeast Iowa. Ryan and his father, Gene Herman, have 190 cow-calf pairs. They raise calves on grass as yearlings and sell them to a grass-finishing program. The Hermans have not raised hay since 2005, relying instead on stockpiled pasture and purchased hay.

Tuesday, February 7, 7-8:30 p.m., "Improve your Farmer's Market Sales" with John Wesselius and Dru Montri
Coming home from market with only $50 and a vehicle full of product can be discouraging. Participants will learn how to calculate the costs of attending farmer's markets, how to set a farmer's market income goal and strategies to reach that goal and achieve a profit that's worthy of the effort.

John Wesselius and his family operate The Cornucopia near Sioux Center, IA. Their annual sales revenues exceed $100,000 and are generated on a six-acre property. Two of those acres are covered in gardens, one and a half acres in grass for pastured poultry and the balance in trees and buildings. They sell their products at the Sioux Center Farmer's Market, Sioux City Farmer's Market and the Falls Park Farmer's Market in Sioux Falls, SD. John is passionate about growing for market!

Dru Montri is the director of Michigan Farmer's Market Association (MIFMA).  She has a background in horticulture receiving her B.S. from Michigan State University (MSU) and her M.S. from Penn State.  In addition to her work with MIFMA, she is pursuing a dual doctoral degree at MSU in Horticulture and Community and in Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies. She and her husband own and operate Ten Hens Farm in Bath, Michigan.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 7-8:30 p.m., "Integrate Small Grains into Large Grain Row Crops  Integrated Livestock Farms" with Wade Dooley and Tom Frantzen
Farmers who attend this session will learn how adding alternative crops can reduce costs and pest pressure while helping them raise more profitable and healthy livestock.

Wade Dooley is a beginning farmer with a conventional background. He hails from a large grain and cow/calf farm near Albion, IA. His family has been farming in central Iowa since the 1890s. Dooley works on the family farm and is experimenting with cover crops, wholesale watermelon production and increasing profit without increasing the farm's land base.

Tom Frantzen is a longtime member of Practical Farmers of Iowa, serving as a past board president and board member in the early years. He farms diverse crops on 385 tillable acres near New Hampton, IA and raises hogs and cattle with his wife, Irene, and son, James. Frantzen is pioneering a number of innovative farm practices such as installing farmstead windbreaks to reduce cattle stress and reducing on-farm energy use with solar and geothermal technologies. Tom and Irene Frantzen were awarded the 2010 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award by Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Tuesday, February 28, 7-8:30 p.m., "Pricing Poultry: Eggs, Broilers and Turkeys" with Garrett Caryl and Kim Alexander
Many consumers are demanding "farm fresh eggs" or "pastured poultry." Participants will learn how to price and market their niche poultry products for profit during this Farminar.

Garrett Caryl is a beginning farmer who farms near Marshalltown. He raises and markets pastured broiler chickens and a small rare breed of "red wattle" hogs. He is enrolled PFI's Savings Incentive Program.

Kim Alexander grew up on a mixed-crop and livestock farm in western Iowa. The 1980s Farm Crisis drove him to Texas where, inspired by Joel Salatin, he and Gloria, his wife, rented an abandoned farm 20 minutes from Austin. They built Alexander Family Farm, one of the first operations of the kind in Texas, selling pastured poultry eggs through the wholesale market to local restaurants and grocers. Alexander Family Farm also sells beef, broilers and turkeys directly to consumers. After 25 years in south central Texas, Kim purchased 160 acres of his family's farm in western Iowa. in 2010 he returned to Iowa to raise livestock for local markets, building business in Iowa; Gloria manages the Texas farm.  

Tuesday, March 6, 7-8:30 p.m., "Determining Whether Your Produce Farm Will Flourish or Wilt" with Grant Schultz and Chris Blanchard
 Farminar presenters will talk about how to raise healthy food for the local community and make a profit.  Participants will learn how to use financial sheets to guide their farm's production systems, markets and scale.

Grant Schultz began farming in 2009 on rented land near Eldridge, IA. His brother Adam plans to join the operation full time in 2012. Schultz Heirloom Farm grows heirloom varieties and saves seeds extensively. The Schultz brothers are newly enrolled in the Savings Incentive Program.

Chris Blanchard is a dynamic, innovative produce farmer. His farm, Rock Spring Farm, near Decorah, IA has been certified organic since 2001. In addition to growing fantastic produce, Chris helps the next generation by sharing his knowledge and experience with other farmers at conferences across the country.

Tuesday, March 13, 7-8:30 p.m., "Long-Term Fertility Management, Adding Livestock and Longer Crop Rotations to Reduce Costs" with Nathan Anderson and Ron Rosmann
High costs can quickly eat up all your profits. Learn how livestock management and longer rotations can increase your profitability while nurturing healthy soils, plants and animals on your farm.

Nathan Anderson farms with Sarah, his wife, and extended family near Cherokee, IA. They produce corn and soybeans, and raise beef cattle. Nathan is enrolled in the Savings Incentive Program and is active in Practical Farmers of Iowa's Cooperators' Program, conducting on-farm research in cover crops and pasture improvement. After seven years of farming through high school and college, he recently purchased his first cropland.

Ron Rosmann and his wife Maria Vakulskas Rosmann are founding members of Practical Farmers of Iowa. They raise organic row crops and livestock along with their sons David, Mark and Daniel and his wife, Ellen. Ron and Maria were awarded the 2009 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award by Practical Farmers of Iowa.

 Practical Farmers of Iowa's Winter 2012 Farminars are made possible with funding from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2010-49400-21843 and the Ceres Foundation.

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more.  For more information, call 515.232.5661 or visit

For your convenience in finding individuals within your area if you have questions afterward, here's a list of Farminar presenters by community below:

PFI Farminar 2012 presenters from your community:

Albion | Presenting on: Tuesday, February 21, 7-8:30 p.m.

Wade Dooley beginning farmer from a conventional large grain and cow/calf farm. His family ancestors have been farming in central Iowa since the 1890s.

Chariton | Presenting on: Tuesday, January 17, 7-8:30 p.m.

Sean Skeehan of Blue Gate Farm, which produces produce, hay, jams/jellies, handicrafts, and eggs for direct markets.

Cherokee | Presenting on: Tuesday, March 13, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Nathan Anderson produces corn, soybeans, raises beef cattle with his wife, parents and grandparents.

Eldridge | Presenting on: Tuesday, March 6, 7-8:30 p.m.

Grant Schultz beginning fruit and vegetable farmer with his brother Adam.

Grinnell | Presenting on: Tuesday, January 17, 7-8:30 p.m.

Melissa Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm, produces 20 acres of fruits and vegetables, raises beef cattle for direct sales by the cut.

Harlan | Presenting on: Tuesday, March 13, 7-8:30 p.m.

Ron Rosmann is an experienced organic farmer producing corn, soybeans, small grains, managing pastures for beef cattle, and raises farrow to finish hogs.

Jefferson | Presenting on: Tuesday, January 10, 7-8:30 p.m.

Jerry Peckumn is an experienced row crop livestock farmer.

Leo Brooker, CPA advises farmers and small business owners for accounting questions and tax preparation.

Marshalltown| Presenting on: Tuesday, February 28, 7-8:30 p.m.,

Garrett Cary l raises pastured broilers, hogs and is working on a business plan for direct marketing meat.

New Albin | Presenting on: Tuesday, January 31, 7-8:30 p.m.

Ryan Herman is a beginning grazier and with his father they manage 190 cow/calf pairs.

New Hampton | Presenting on: Tuesday, February 21, 7-8:30 p.m.

Tom Frantzen is an experienced diverse organic row crop and livestock farmer.

Sioux Center | Presenting on: Tuesday, February 7, 7-8:30 p.m/

John Wesselius produces abundant produce and poultry for farmers market on a small farm.

Smithland | Presenting on: Tuesday, February 28, 7-8:30 p.m.

Kim Alexander experienced farmer grazes livestock, and manages pastured poultry for local markets.

Solon | Presenting on: Tuesday, December 27, 7-8:30 p.m.

Kate Edwards is a beginning farmer who grows local produce for farmers market, a small CSA, and wholesale

Waukon | Presenting on: Tuesday, January 31, 7-8:30 p.m.

Joel Winnes has several years experience managing pastures for a grass-based organic dairy and plans to start his own farm one day.

As battered, bedraggled 2011 fades away, some wishes for the new year


Now that the reindeer paws on the rooftop are about to be replaced by the whirring wings of the stork delivering the baby new year 2012, can we pause a moment between choruses of “Auld Lang Syne” and popping champagne corks to make a few wishes:

· For all the men and women finally returning home from the seemingly eternal battles in Iraq, the hero’s welcome they so richly deserve, a speedy return to careers put on hold, and a resumption of life in the warm embrace of family and loved ones.

· For all the families whose sons, daughters, husbands, wives, or other loved ones were lost in Iraq — almost 4,500, according to official figures — the heartfelt sympathy of a nation that fervently hopes history will show those deaths were not in vain.

· For the more than 30,000 men and women who were wounded or horribly maimed in Iraq, many who face the remainder of their lives in medical care, many traumatized by the unspeakable horrors of what they experienced, our hope for a measure of peace, the support and love of family and friends, and a fulfillment of our government’s promises not to forget their needs.

· For the estimated 300,000 to 1 million (nobody knows for sure how many) Iraqi citizens killed in the war, the hundreds of thousands of others injured, and the many thousands who lost homes and businesses in nearly a decade of destruction, the vast majority of them innocent civilians caught in a conflict not of their making, a wish that their country will, in the years ahead, be freer, better than it was under the despotic Saddam Hussein.

· For the 200,000 U.S. diplomatic, security, and private contractor personnel remaining in Iraq, a hope for safety — and cooperation from Iraqi officials in moving the country forward.

· For the almost 3,000 U.S. military and coalition members who have died in Afghanistan, the many thousands wounded, and for those who continue to fight, die and be injured there, our gratitude for their sacrifices and a fervent wish that these battles, too, will soon come to an end and they all can return to their homes and families.

· For the millions of Americans who are saddled with paying what some project could eventually be $3 trillion in costs for the Iraq war, some concrete evidence in the months and years ahead that it was, after all, justified.

· For the almost 700,000 Americans, many of them young children, who are homeless on any given night in this country — in many cases the result of the collapse of the economy that left them jobless, foreclosed their homes, and shattered their dreams — a wish that a nation that can spend trillions of dollars on wars half a world away, with sometimes little discernible purpose, can also find ways to help these disenfranchised of its own people get back on their feet.

· For a Congress and administration that can put aside petty political posturing, bickering, and self-aggrandizement, and get down to a for-real, honest-to-goodness bipartisan effort to come up with ways to begin resolving the many problems confronting this nation as a result of a decade or more of fiscal mismanagement and failure to be good stewards.

Beekeeping Schools Offered In 2012

Beekeeping Schools Offered In 2012

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is encouraging Iowans interested in beekeeping to consider enrolling in one of the twelve beekeeping schools that will be held around the state again in 2012. The Iowa Honey Producers Association (IHPA) in partnership with several other groups host the courses to help those interested in beekeeping get started.

"These courses provide an excellent opportunity for new beekeepers or those who are interested in getting started to learn from Iowa beekeepers who understand our seasons and environment," Northey says. "The timing and content of the coursework aims to help you become prepared and confident in time for bees to arrive this spring."

Early enrollment in these courses is important, please sign up now

Early enrollment for many of these courses is important so courses can meet minimum enrollment numbers. Fees will vary by location. For more information, please refer to the IHPA website and online monthly newsletter at or contact Andrew Joseph, state apiarist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, at (515) 725-1481 or

There are currently about 1,500 beekeepers in Iowa that manage around 30,000 colonies of honeybees.  These honeybees produce about 2 million pounds of honey annually, valued at $3.5 million.  Honeybees are also responsible for the pollination of many Iowa crops.  Field and horticultural crops, home gardens and plants eaten by wildlife are dependent on bee pollination for the production of their fruits, nuts and seeds.  The economic value of honeybees as crop pollinators in Iowa has been estimated at $92 million annually.

A list of the 2012 course locations and details follows here:


Start Date

Course Time

Meeting Location




Jan. 19

Thursdays for 7 weeks

Iowa Lab Facility, DMACC Campus

Andrew Joseph: 515-725-1481 or


Cedar Rapids

Jan. 19

8 sessions throughout the year

Indian Creek Nature Center

Bob Wolfe: 319-363-0664 or more information at

Member: $55

Nonmember: $85

Partner: $10


Jan. 17

Tuesdays for 7 weeks

Marion County Extension Office

Craig Greene: (641) 842-2112



Jan. 19

Thursdays for 8 weeks

Trinity-United Presbyterian Church

Mike Wyatt: (515) 961-0357



Jan. 25

Wednesdays for 4-6 weeks

Mills County Engineer's office

Clarence Seale: 712-310-7410





Winterset library

Pat Randol: (515) 210-7445 or



Jan. 19

Thursdays for 7 weeks

Mahaska County Extension office

Craig Green: 641-842-2112



Jan. 18

Beginning Beekeeping class for 4 weeks; Advanced Beekeeping next 3 weeks

Iowa Valley Community College

Sandy Supianoski: 800-284-4823

$40 for both sessions

$25 for one session


Jan. 24

Tuesdays for 6 weeks

Northeast Iowa Community College

NICC Continuing Education: 563-557-0354 or and click on continuing education



Feb. 6

Mondays for 4 weeks

Kirkwood Center

Ron Wehr: 319-698-7542






Larry or Marlene Boernsen: 712-735-4205


Mason City

Feb. 4

Saturdays for 4 weeks

North Iowa Area Community College

NIACC Continuing Education: 641-422-4358


Get Set For 2012 Iowa Pork Congress

Get Set For 2012 Iowa Pork Congress

The Iowa Pork Producers Association will hold the 2012 Iowa Pork Congress Jan. 25 and 26 at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines.

The nation's largest winter swine tradeshow and conference will be held in Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center, as well as the Polk County Convention Complex. Pork Congress hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 25 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 26. The Iowa Pork Foundation's annual Kickoff Reception and Auction will be held at Hy-Vee Hall Jan. 24 and the IPPA Youth Swine Judging contest will be held at the county convention complex Jan. 26.

"The Iowa Pork Congress is one of the most comprehensive swine conventions anyone associated with the pork industry could attend," says IPPA president Leon Sheets, a hog producer from Ionia in northeast Iowa. "The educational opportunities are phenomenal and our tradeshow has probably the largest collection of swine-related vendors anywhere. With the various social events, youth activities and networking opportunities, the Iowa Pork Congress literally has something for everyone."

This event offers the latest on feeding, genetics, buildings, equipment etc.

Attendees will find nearly everything needed to run a successful hog business at the tradeshow. Feed, swine genetics, building construction, equipment and animal health are among the products and services marketed by the nearly 300 companies participating. IPPA will again welcome attendees to the Pork Information Plaza where guests can visit with IPPA producer leaders and representatives from the National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council and other affiliated organizations.

The seminars and educational opportunities are always another popular draw for most attendees. For no additional cost, producers can learn more about pork production and a number of related, timely issues. Topics of the nearly dozen sessions include PPRS, swine diets, animal well-being and the ever-popular regulations and nuisance case update. Dr. West Jamison will discuss the animal welfare movement in the keynote address.

"Things are always changing in pork production and the seminars we offer will help keep producers in the know," says IPPA Iowa Pork Congress Committee Chairman Don Toale, a pork producer from Independence in eastern Iowa. "Our goal with this annual event is always to bring in the industry's leading experts to present our seminars and provide the latest information available on the topics of greatest interest to producers."

You need to register by the January 16 deadline to get the best deal

The Iowa Pork Congress offers something for everyone and pork producers, pig handlers, allied business representatives and high school and college students are encouraged to attend, says Toale. Decision makers in farrowing, finishing and seedstock production, production employees, veterinarians or anyone with an interest in the swine industry will gain valuable insight by attending the event.

Registration: Registration is currently open for the 2012 Iowa Pork Congress.

The pre-registration deadline is Jan. 16, 2012, and IPPA members can attend the tradeshow and conference at no cost by registering early. Interested persons can register now at or by using the form in the November issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine.

IPPA members can attend at no charge by registering online or by completing and submitting the form by the deadline. Non-IPPA members can save $5 off of normal $10 admission cost by registering online by deadline. Registrations will be accepted after the deadline through each day of the show, but the cost will be $10. Those who pre-register can avoid lines and quickly pick up their pre-printed name badge and credentials at the "Pre-registration desk" the day of the show. For more information, contact IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or visit

Overnight Markets Down then Up

Overnight Markets Down then Up

The volume of trade last night in the grain market was still nothing to brag about with the numbers on the thin side. But there was continued focus on South American dry weather and as long as it does stay dry that will help U.S. markets. To listen to Tom Leffler and Lory Williams discuss the markets on The Ag Network use the audio player on this page.

Tom Leffler is the co-founder/owner of Leffler Commodities, LLC and Leffler Ag Consulting, LLC located in Augusta, KS, with a branch in western Kansas. Tom has been a Commodity Broker/Ag Marketing Advisor since 1991, consulting clients in agriculture marketing, risk management and advising speculators.   Tom has an extensive background experience in agriculture, as he was actively involved for nearly 20 years as a third-generation member of his family’s diversified farming and cattle operation that operates in east-central Kansas. Tom over the years has conducted many marketing seminars and speaking engagements for agriculture producers in the Midwest.  He has done these in cooperation with banks, grain elevators, county extension agents, Ag radio stations and others.

John Jenkinson is Senior Farm Broadcaster for "The Ag Network." John grew up on an irrigated and dryland grain farm in Southwest Kansas.  With an early passion for agriculture, he was active in the FFA, 4-H, and went to college to pursue agriculture.  In 1997, someone mentioned that he should look into farm broadcasting as a career, and that began a new chapter in his life and he eventually became a board member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.  The stations that John has worked at are legendary farm radio stations with deep agribusiness roots, KFEQ, KSIR, WIBW, KXXX, KMZU, and KBUF.  In April of 2008, John started "The Ag Network" with 3 affiliates in Colorado, and then added stations in Kansas and Oklahoma.  Today, "The Ag Network" is still growing, and John is hosting two live farm talk shows, as well providing 12 farm programs a day for affiliates. He also produces a daily farm television program for a statewide network in Kansas.

Tune-In To Farm Economics Webinars

Tune-In To Farm Economics Webinars

Here's an opportunity to learn farm management skills and information in the comfort of your home or farm office. Iowa Farm Bureau in cooperation with Iowa State University Extension is offering upcoming webinars (online seminars delivered via your home computer and the Internet) covering topics such as the U.S. and farm economic outlook, tax strategies for farmers, labor management and crop insurance decisions for 2012.

While the agricultural industry is helping to strengthen the state's overall economy, it's important for Iowa farmers to carefully manage risk and understand economic challenges and opportunities, says Ed Kordick, commodity services manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). IFBF will offer a U.S. and farm economic outlook webinar on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 at noon (CST).

January 17 webinar to discuss 2012 U.S. and farm economic outlook

This January 17 webinar will feature Robert Dieli, president of RDLB, Inc., and Paul Prentice, president of Farm Sector Economics. They will discuss the current volatility in agriculture and offer insight in opportunities and potential challenges.

Participants can access the free webinar at and look for the link on the main rotating banner. Registration is encouraged. Participants can also log in as guests on the day of the webinar. For more information, contact Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager at 515-225-5433.

February 8 webinar to cover 2012 crop insurance & crop marketing issues

On Wednesday Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. you are invited to tune-in to the 2012 crop insurance and crop marketing risk management webinar. Speakers will be William Edwards, Iowa State University Extension ag economist, and Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. You can access this webinar at

Crop insurance is a key part of risk management plans for Iowa farmers, notes Edwards. ISU Extension and Farm Bureau are cooperating on this timely update, covering and explaining the changes in crop insurance products and rules for 2012. For example, there is the new Trend Adjusted Yield Endorsement, and also the lower premiums for corn and soybeans in Iowa, and other changes too.

This crop risk management seminar will include thoughts on combining crop insurance and 2012 pre-harvest crop marketing. For more information contact Kordick at or 515-225-5433.

There are several other Webinars offered by Farm Bureau but they are for Farm Bureau members only. For more information about them you have to go to the site and look for the rotating hotbox in the members only section. These upcoming webinars include:

2011 Iowa Farm Tax Seminar-- recording and materials: Tax strategies and planning ideas are available by viewing a recording featuring Roger McEowen and Charles Brown. McEowen is director of the ISU Center for Ag Law and Taxation, and Brown is president of AgriFinancial Services LLC. Both have extensive experience in farm taxes and keep up-to-date on the changes that make tax strategies challenging.

Farm Labor Webinar-- recording and materials: Labor is an important resource for agriculture, and the Farm Labor webinar is designed to keep Iowa farmers up-to-date on existing, new and proposed regulations. This webinar features Craig Anderson, manager of the Ag Labor and Safety Services Division of the Michigan Farm Bureau.

Iowa Commodity Challenge Simulation—Farm Bureau members can learn using the Iowa Commodity Challenge, a corn and soybean marketing simulation to practice the use of futures, options and cash sales. This unique educational effort is part of a cooperative project of Iowa Farm Bureau and ISU Extension. Instructions on joining the simulation and links to educational materials are available on

Iowa Corn Growers 2012 Crop Fair Schedule

Iowa Corn Growers 2012 Crop Fair Schedule

The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) will again join with local sponsoring groups to host 15 free crop fairs across Iowa this winter. The meetings start next week—January 4, 2012 and run through March 5.

If you are located in Iowa and are interested in growing and marketing corn, you are invited to attend one of these meetings—even if you are not a member of ICGA. Choose the one that's located closest to you. There is no charge.

"Our crop fairs are an established tradition for many growers," says Don Mason, ICGA's director of grower services. "These meetings make top experts available at local gatherings where farmers can ask questions and tap into the latest information on issues that affect their profitability."

Mason especially thanks the local sponsoring groups and businesses for making the crop fair program possible: "We would not be able to offer this up-to-date and very valuable information to thousands of farmers who attend these meetings, if we didn't have the support of our sponsors," he says. 

Iowa Corn Growers announce 2012 Crop Fair Schedule

Dates and locations for this year's crop fair schedule include:

Jan. 4 in Sioux City

Jan. 5 in Fremont, Nebraska

Jan. 6 in Burlington

Jan. 16 in Tama

Jan. 17 in Brooklyn

Jan. 25 in Fayette

Jan. 30 in Ames

Feb. 1 in Paullina

Feb. 1 in New Hampton

Feb. 10 in Boone

Feb. 14 in Oakland

Feb. 15 in Orient

Feb. 17 in Bayard

Feb. 20 in Missouri Valley

Feb. 22 in Fort Dodge

Feb. 28 in Bloomfield

Mar. 1 in Villisca

Mar. 5 in Clayton

For full program details on individual crop fairs, go to or call 515-225-9242.

The ICPB directs the investment of Iowa corn checkoff funds to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The ICGA is a membership organization, lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its 6,500 members.

Rootworm Resistance To Bt Corn Confirmed

Rootworm Resistance To Bt Corn Confirmed

Over the last few summers, rootworms have feasted on the roots of Bt corn in some fields in four Midwestern states, suggesting that part of the rootworm population in those fields has become resistant to the crop's pest-fighting powers.

Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann this past summer sounded an alarm through the biotech industry when he published findings concluding that rootworms in some fields in Iowa have evolved an ability to survive corn that has the Cry3Bb1 corn rootworm trait. Similar crop damage has been seen in parts of Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska, but researchers are still investigating whether rootworms capable of surviving the Bt toxin were the cause.

Figure 1. Western corn rootworm was the predominant species in fields with performance issues. Photo by Marlin Rice

Speaking at the recent 2011 Integrated Crop Management Conference at Iowa State University, Ken Ostilie, a University of Minnesota entomologist, said the severity of rootworm damage to Bt fields in Minnesota has eased since the problem first surfaced in 2009. Yet reports of damage have become more widespread, and he fears resistance could be spreading undetected because the damage rootworms inflict often isn't apparent. Without strong winds, wet soil or both, plants can be damaged at the roots but remain upright, concealing the problem. Ostilie says the damage he's observed in Minnesota came to light only because storms toppled corn plants with damaged roots.

Number of fields with this problem is small--but keep an eye on the situation

Figure 2. Severe corn rootworm injury can interfere with nutrient uptake and make plants unstable. Assessing root injury is important for determining larval pressure in a field. Photo by Erin Hodgson

Iowa State University Extension entomologist Erin Hodgson and ISU research entomologist Aaron Gassmann say that while the number of fields with resistance to Bt corn that has the Cry3Bb1 trait is small at this time in Iowa, it should be noted that similar damage has been reported in these other states.

"Our research at ISU and the research of other scientists elsewhere highlights the importance of incorporating integrated pest management and insect resistance management into corn production," says Gassmann. For now the rootworm resistance in Iowa appears to be isolated. But he says that could change if farmers don't quickly take action. The rootworm larvae grow into adult beetles that can fly, meaning resistant beetles could easily spread to new areas and lay their eggs. The eggs hatch and produce new rootworm larvae to chew on corn roots. Gassmann and Hodgson offer the following explanation, information and recommendations to farmers regarding the management of Bt corn.

First confirmation of resistance to Bt corn by Western Corn Rootworm

Starting in 2009, the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University received reports of severe corn rootworm injury in Bt corn in Iowa. In all cases, western corn rootworm was the predominant rootworm species in these fields (Fig. 1).

Gassmann compared survivorship of western corn rootworm collected from these problem fields versus insects from control fields (not associated with performance issues). The results were recently published in an article by Gassmann et al. (2011), Field-evolved resistance to Bt Maize by western corn rootworm. In general, survival on Cry3Bb1 corn was significantly higher for larvae from problem fields compared to control fields. Cry3Bb1 corn is sold commercially under the names YieldGard RW and YieldGard VT Triple. The ISU research also showed no cross-resistance with the Cry34/35Ab1 protein.

This research reports the first time a beetle has evolved resistance to a Bt crop in the field. But maybe these findings are not a total surprise. The Bt proteins targeting corn rootworm are not considered high dose like they are for European corn borer. Additionally, resistant strains of western corn rootworm can be produced in a lab within three generations, which translates to three summers in an Iowa corn field.

Management considerations for farmers planting these Bt corn hybrids

The number of fields with resistance to Cry3Bb1 corn is small at this time. But it should be noted that similar damage has been reported in Illinois, Minnesota , Nebraska and South Dakota. This research highlights the importance of incorporating integrated pest management (IPM) and insect resistance management (IRM) into field crop production, say Gassmann and Hodgson.

All problem fields visited by Gassmann in 2009 had a production history of at least three years of continuous corn with the Cry3Bb1 protein, and this likely contributed to the development of resistance.

The most effective way to prevent widespread rootworm resistance is to use sound IRM and IPM for Bt corn targeting corn rootworm, says Gassmann. Crop rotation is among the most effective management strategies for controlling western corn rootworm in Iowa. Also, consider rotating Bt proteins if planting continuous corn. And always comply with refuge requirements for the seed type, which can range from 5% to 20%.

"A soil-applied insecticide can be used with a non-Bt hybrid or the insecticide could supplement root protection for Bt corn in areas with known high larval pressure," notes Gassmann. "All corn fields should be evaluated annually by assessing root injury from corn rootworm and management strategies should be adjusted if injury above 0.5 nodes is observed for roots that are protected against corn rootworm.

Northey Unveils Ag Budget Request

Northey Unveils Ag Budget Request

Following several years of significant budget cuts that has left the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship funded at the same level it was in the 1990's, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey on December 20, 2011 laid out the ag department's fiscal year 2013 funding request in a public meeting with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

The department's general fund appropriation has been cut from $21.2 million in fiscal year 2009 to $16.5 million in the current fiscal year, or a 22% reduction. As a result, the department lost a total of 58 employees since 2008 and is at the lowest staffing levels in 25 years.

In his recent request, Northey asked that $1.69 million of department's $3.09 million cut over the past four years be restored. If this entire request is funded the department's fiscal year 2013 general fund budget would be $18,189,893 which is still 14.5% below 2009 levels.

Northey unveils 2013 budget request in meeting with governor Branstad

Northey explained how the restored funds would be used to backfill some of the losses that have occurred in the department's Weights and Measures Bureau, Pesticide Bureau and Animal Industry Bureau. Funds would also be used to meet mandatory increased costs facing the department due to union agreements, IPERS and increased health costs.

"We believe now is the time for the governor and state legislature to consider starting to restore part of the funding to these key priorities," says Northey. "The state ag department has great employees that have worked very hard to get the work done and meet our code responsibilities, but continued attrition would be a concern. That's why we've come forward with this proposal and look forward to continuing to discuss it with the governor and legislators."

In the meeting Northey also laid out number of water quality priorities for the state ag department with proposed funding from the Environment First fund, which receives a standing appropriation from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. The ag department's Environment First funding has been cut from $15.8 million in fiscal year 2009 to $12.4 million in fiscal year 2012, which is a 21.5% reduction. The department's total Environment First funding request for fiscal year 2013 is $19.2 million, an increase of $6.8 million.

Funds would also be used to beef up the state's soil and water programs

These funds would be used for the department's urban soil and water conservation program, ag drainage well closure, water shed protection fund, additional cost share to support farmers installing conservation practices and the Conservation Reserve Program. Northey also requested funding that would allow for the reinstatement of 9 state soil secretary positions and 6 state soil technician positions. Twenty-one field offices are currently without a state secretary and 14 technicians have been lost in the last two years.

"I understand state funding remains very tight and that's unlikely to change in the upcoming fiscal year, but the dramatic budget cuts experienced by our state ag department have had an impact and we think the time is right to make our case to restore some of those cuts," he says. "The work of the department is important to all Iowans and these funds would help make sure we are able to continue to serve the people of Iowa and meet our code mandated responsibilities."

Renewable Fuels Caucus Voter Guide

Renewable Fuels Caucus Voter Guide

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), on December 28, 2011,  announced the release of the "Iowans Fueled with Pride" coalition's 2012 Iowa Caucus Voter Guide. The guide outlines the positions of presidential candidates campaigning actively in Iowa on four main issues confronting the ethanol community. 

"Thousands of Iowa households have invested their future directly with the ethanol industry, and they are keenly interested in where the candidates who are running for the office of President of the United States stand on the issues, such as the renewable fuels standard, which impacts their jobs and investments," says IRFA president Walt Wendland. "This voter's guide is a highly important tool for Iowa voters who are looking to continue ethanol's role in creating jobs, reducing dependence on foreign oil and cleaning the environment. The Iowans Fueled with Pride coalition worked hard to engage the candidates on these issues and to get the candidates' positions in their own words."

The voter guide highlights the presidential candidates' positions on:

the renewable fuels standard (RFS);

a fair and equitable energy tax policy;

the attempt to ban E15; and,

consumer fueling choice.

"We were pleased that four candidates had a pro-ethanol position on all four issues," says Wendland. "Iowa voters can review the results and draw their own conclusions. But it is important to understand that renewable fuels are driving Iowa's ag economy, which is in turn driving Iowa's overall economy. If Iowans want a healthy and growing economy, then we need a healthy and growing ethanol industry – and public policy is the key."

The guide is being mailed to approximately 10,000 Iowa households that are employed by or directly invested in Iowa ethanol refineries. The guide will also be promoted to all of Iowa's 250,000 agricultural households via email, the Internet and social media. An electronic version of the guide can be viewed at:

Iowans Fueled with Pride is a coalition of Iowa renewable fuels producers committed to providing accurate and current information to the public, elected officials and candidates for office. Further, they work to foster an open and comprehensive debate about the future of U.S. energy policy. The coalition does not endorse candidates for office.

Walt Wendland is the CEO of Golden Grain Energy near Mason City, Iowa and Homeland Energy Solutions near Lawler, Iowa. He is currently serving his second term as president of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Iowa is the leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 41 ethanol refineries capable of producing 3.7 billion gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 13 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce 320 million gallons annually.