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Local Ag News

Bird Flu Detected In Plymouth County

(Des Moines) -- The bird flu has now struck Plymouth County.  Iowa Department of Agriculture officials have confirmed the avian flu virus H5N3 has been detected in a chicken operation.  Dustin Vande Hoef is a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

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The pullet farm has experienced increased mortality, and Vande Hoef says the farm will be quarantined, and the birds will be euthenized.   An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Vande Hoef says officials believe the bird flu virus will greatly slow down, or go away all together, once the weather warms up.

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Most of the reported bird flu cases have been from larger commercial size operations, be they a turkey or a chicken layer operation.  But, Vande Hoef says the bird flu is also affecting smaller-sized backyard poultry operations.

 

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Sioux County is also reporting another case of the bird flu at a pullet operation.  With the two new cases, that brings the total number of 52 cases for the state of Iowa.  Agriculture officials have quarantined the premesis.  The Center of Disease Control says there is no risk to humans.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected, and there is no food safety risk for consumers.

 

   

Bird Flu Hits Iowa Turkey Farm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bird-flu strain that has already hit numerous turkey farms in the Midwest has been found in a turkey flock in northwest Iowa.

An Iowa Department of Agriculture spokesman says Tuesday the H5N2 strain of bird flu virus has been confirmed in a barn on a farm housing 27,000 birds in Buena Vista County. The disease was suspected when turkeys began dying in the barn.

An Iowa Poultry Association spokesman says the farm is under quarantine and the turkeys will be euthanized.

Animal health officials have long said the virus is dangerous to all commercial poultry. Iowa has 130 turkey farms raising 11 million turkeys a year. The state also is the nation's leading egg producer with 59.6 million egg layers. No chicken flocks in Iowa have been infected.

   

Farmers Off To A Good Start On Field Work

(Le Mars) -- Farmers have been taking advantage of the warm weather by preparing their fields for crop production.  Iowa State University Extension Crop Specialist for Northwest Iowa, Joel DeJong says so far, farmers are off to a good start.

 

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Soil temperatures have been rising according to DeJong, but still a bit cooler than desired for crop production.

 

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As for sub-soil moisture levels, and despite some reports indicating drought-like conditions, the crops specialist says for most of Northwest Iowa the levels are sufficient.

 

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Most Iowa farmers will probably plant this year's corn crop between April 20th and May 10th.

 

   

Quarterly Hog Report Shows 7 Percent Increase

WASHINGTON –As of March 1, there were 65.9 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up 7 percent from March 2014, but down slightly from December 1, 2014, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Other key findings in the report were:

Of the 65.9 million hogs and pigs, 60.0 million were market hogs, while 5.98 million were kept for breeding.

Between December 2014 and February 2015, 28.8 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, up 9 percent from the same time period one year earlier.

From December 2014 through February 2015, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.17 pigs per litter.

U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow between March and May 2015, and 2.93 million sows farrow between June and August 2015.

Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 20.4 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8.40 million and 7.85 million head, respectively.

   

Iowa Continues To Lose Farms

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in a new report that the number of farms in Iowa continues to slide. 
     In an annual report released Thursday the USDA says Iowa farms fell to 88,000 last year, 500 fewer than the year before. Most of the decrease came in the small farm category, those with annual sales between $1,000 and $10,000.
     The number of Iowa farms has fallen 1.2 percent since 2010, while the average farm size is up 1.2 percent in the same period, a reflection of national trends.
     The average farm in Iowa is 347 acres, up one acre from the year before. 
     Iowa had 30.5 million acres in farms last year, down 100,000 acres from the year before.

   

Hundreds of Farmers File Suit Against Syngenta

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Farmers and farm businesses in 20 states have filed more than 360 lawsuits against agricultural chemicals-maker Syngenta, and hundreds more may be coming as a federal judge in Kansas City coordinates the cases so they can proceed.
     The dispute centers around Syngenta's Agrisure Viptera, a corn seed genetically modified to contain a protein that kills corn-eating bugs. China hadn't approved it for import, and boycotted U.S. corn once Viptera was detected in its grain shipments in 2013.
     Farmers who did not plant the seed, grain handlers and exporters claim the boycott cost them money.
     Syngenta says it plans to seek dismissal because there's no legal authority barring the introduction of a U.S. government-approved product simply because it wasn't approved for sale in a foreign country. 
     China approved Viptera in December.

 

   

Grain Prices Likely To Remain Low Through 2015 Marketing Year

(Le Mars) -- Corn prices are low, as are gasoline prices, so how is the ethanol industry faring?  An Iowa State University agricultural economist says the ethanol industry is facing a good news - bad news scenerio with profit margins becoming very slim.

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Chad Hart spoke at a Crop Advantage seminar in Le Mars on Tuesday.  He says ethanol is able to compete when oil prices are high, but times like today, the ethanol industry still needs support from subsidies.
 
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Hart says there isn't much optimism for improvement in the grain prices for this next marketing year.

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The grain marketing specialist says if there is a possibility for hope in the grain markets, it could be with exports.

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2015 May Be Good Weather Year For Crops

(Le Mars) -- An Iowa State University Extension Climatologist believes 2015 should be a decent year for farmers and their crops.  Elwynn Taylor spoke before nearly 200 farmers in Le Mars on Tuesday.  He says subsoil moisture levels have for the most part, been replenished across the cornbelt, giving farmers some optimism for having another good yield, despite what appears to be a dry winter.

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Taylor says the nation is ending one weather cycle and is starting another.  He says so far, we are having a moderate el nino' weather pattern which could mean above average crop yield for 2015.

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The Extension Climatologist says farmers may see a cycle that could be more volatile.

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Judge Blocks Farm Groups Lawsuit Against EPA

Judge Blocks Farm Groups Lawsuit Against EPA

 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by two major farm groups that sought to block the release of data on large livestock farms in Minnesota and Iowa.
     The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council filed the lawsuit in in Minneapolis in 2013 after some activist groups requested the Environmental Protection Agency data under the Freedom of Information Act. The data includes physical addresses and other operational details about the farms. The farm groups said releasing the data would violate farmers' privacy.
     But U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday. She ruled that Farm Bureau and the Pork Producers lacked legal standing. And she pointed out that the data the two groups sought to keep private is easily available from other public sources anyway.

   

USDA Reports Record Corn & Soybean Harvest

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's final tally of the 2014 crop year is showing farmers brought in record corn and soybean crops.
     The agency says in reports released Monday that farmers harvested a record 14.2 billion bushels of corn. That is 3 percent more than the 2013 crop, which had set the previous record. The average bushel-per-acre yield is 171, significantly better than the 158 bushels per acre in 2013.
     The record crop came even though farmers harvested about 5 percent fewer acres than in 2013. Record yields are estimated in 21 states, including Illinois and Nebraska.
     Soybean production also is a record at 3.97 billion bushels, up 18 percent from 2013. Farmers harvested a record 83.1 million acres in 2014.
 

   

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