The land Steven Smith lives on has been farmed for more than 125 years.It's less than 10 acres, but Smith grows alfalfa and usually raises some cattle when prices are higher.But earlier this month, the Wright County assessor notified Smith and about 70 other property owners that their small farms will be assessed like the homes in Clarion, Eagle Grove and the other small towns they live around — rather than as agricultural properties.In other words, as far as his property taxes are concerned, Smith's farm is no longer a farm.The residential classification increases Smith's property values 70 percent. He expects his tax bill next year will rise substantially as well, climbing about $600.Unlike his urban neighbors, though, Smith said he gets few town amenities — no sewer, water or other services."It's hard enough to live in the country and try to farm a little bit," without the large increase in values and taxes, said Smith, who also cares for … [Read more...] about Sorry, your farm isn’t a farm, Iowa assessors tell angry owners
Iowa farm bureau federation
Iowa’s crisis in mental health care is getting overdue attention, due to recent tragedies and events organized in response. But it’s clear that the candidates for governor — and state leaders as a whole — have a lot to learn about how to reform the system.At a forum Tuesday sponsored by the Register, Des Moines University and the Iowa Hospital Association, 12 candidates answered questions on how to improve mental health care in Iowa. A 13th, Gov. Kim Reynolds, had a scheduling conflict and provided a pre-recorded video statement.The postmortem: The event included a dose of denial (thanks to the governor), a dearth of details and plenty of delusions. But advocates saw signs of hope from the discussion.“There were platitudes, sure, but there were also sharp observations and specific suggestions. It was not all political talking points,” said Peggy Huppert, executive director for NAMI Iowa. “Honestly, when I compare their performance at … [Read more...] about Mental health crisis requires clearer solutions from Iowa governor candidates
Iowa’s crisis in mental health care is getting overdue attention, due to recent tragedies and events organized in response. But it’s clear that the candidates for governor — and state leaders as a whole — have a lot to learn about how to reform the system.At a forum Tuesday sponsored by the Register, Des Moines University and the Iowa Hospital Association, 12 candidates answered questions on how to improve mental health care in Iowa. A 13th, Gov. Kim Reynolds, had scheduling conflict and provided a pre-recorded video statement.The postmortem: The event included a dose of denial (thanks to the governor), a dearth of details and plenty of delusions. But advocates saw signs of hope from the discussion.“There were platitudes, sure, but there were also sharp observations and specific suggestions. It was not all political talking points,” said Peggy Huppert, executive director for NAMI Iowa. “Honestly, when I compare their performance at … [Read more...] about Mental health forum left us wanting more from Iowa governor candidates
Misinformation about food and farming that gets shared on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels threatens gains in agriculture, the leader of Iowa's largest ag group said Wednesday."It seems that people who don’t farm and don’t understand farming have plenty of opinions about how we, as farmers, should be farming," Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, told about 1,000 farmers Wednesday."This new threat that’s emerged is one that places limits on our progress," Hill said during the group's annual meeting in Des Moines.Hill said after his speech he's concerned about people who don't use "a lot of science or education," spreading messages that "prey on people's fears.""We have 40,000 people killed in car crashes every year — every year," he said. But "no one has been killed by an genetically engineered product," an area that generates a lot of concern about safety.During his speech, Hill said members have … [Read more...] about Iowa Farm Bureau leader: Farmers must fight misinformation that threatens ag gains
With large, diverse fields in races for Congress and the governor's office, 2018 is shaping up to be a competitive campaign year in Iowa. Below is a list of declared candidates, which will be updated and revised as the campaign unfolds. RepublicansKim Reynolds, 58, the state’s two-term lieutenant governor, became governor in May after Gov. Terry Branstad’s resignation to become the U.S. ambassador to China. She’s an Osceola native who previously served in the Iowa Senate and as Clarke County treasurer.Ron Corbett, 56, is the outgoing mayor of Cedar Rapids and a former speaker of the Iowa House.Steven Ray, 47, of Boone, is a member of the Boone City Council and a former public service executive for the Iowa State Patrol. DemocratsNate Boulton, 37, is a first-term state senator from Des Moines and an attorney specializing in labor law and workers compensation.Cathy Glasson, 58, of Coralville, is a nurse and president of the SEIU Local 199, which … [Read more...] about Who’s running for office in Iowa in 2018?
U.S. threats to pull out of longstanding trade agreements with Mexico and Canada could drag Iowa's ag industry into another depression, some state farm leaders say."We're not doing that well now, so any more bad news could push us over the edge," said Dermot Hayes, an Iowa State University economist.U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday downplayed reports earlier this week that the Agriculture Department is working on contingency plans for U.S. withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement.Perdue said he was probably premature to publicly discuss possible contingency plans. "I think it's my responsibility to think about what-if scenarios," he said."I wanted to make the administration aware there could be some devastating price changes if NAFTA is not renegotiated," said the former Georgia governor, who has suggested farmers would need "safety nets" if they lost the NAFTA agreement.He declined on Friday to elaborate what the safety nets would … [Read more...] about Could NAFTA withdrawal push Iowa into another farm crisis? Ag leaders say it’s possible.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked Iowa utility regulators to block plans by a Texas-based company to start construction next week on the Bakken oil pipeline in Iowa.Dakota Access LLC, a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, asked the Iowa Utilities Board this week to permit construction to begin next Tuesday on the vast majority of the project to allow time for the pipeline to be completed this year. The company said it proposes to construct the project "at its own risk," except in areas where pre-construction notification is required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The state board has given other parties until Monday to file comments.The Standing Rock Sioux in a brief filed with Iowa regulators Thursday said while it is not a party to the Iowa proceedings, it is significantly affected by the pipeline and the company's plans for Iowa construction."Specifically, the pipeline is currently facing regulatory … [Read more...] about Sioux tribe trying to block Iowa pipeline construction
A growing number of Iowa conservatives is finally joining the fight to clean up Iowa's waterways.No, they haven’t acknowledged the fact that polluted rivers and streams diminish our overall quality of life, but they do seem to recognize the accompanying threat to Iowa’s economic future.It was inevitable, really. Even the most vocal proponents of ignoring the problem and perpetuating the status quo are now facing growing public anger and the twin threats of litigation and federal intervention.Republican state party chairman Jeff Kaufmann told the Register: “I am hearing water quality now being mentioned at almost every Republican fundraising event. That’s a pretty fundamental change. That’s definitely a newsworthy development. … Making sure people realize that Republicans care about this issue as much as Democrats have (is important). We just haven’t been as good at articulating that. As chair of the party, I’m very excited … [Read more...] about Editorial: Iowa’s clean-water movement is gathering steam
Craig Lang, former president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, says he wants to help farmers find solutions to challenges the state's growers face — from tackling water quality problems to improving rural development.Lang, 66, plans to run for Iowa agriculture secretary. Bill Northey, the state current agriculture secretary, has been nominated for a post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Lang, a Brooklyn dairy farmer, said he will formally announce his plans once Northey is confirmed as USDA's undersecretary for farm production and conservation.Northey, a Spirit Lake farmer, is expected to easily win confirmation.Gov. Kim Reynolds will appoint someone to fill the ag secretary's job until the 2018 election.State Rep. Pat Grassley, grandson to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, is among the leading contenders for the job. Sen. Grassley said he would strongly support his grandson.Lang, who filed papers with the state ethics board, setting up his campaign … [Read more...] about Former Farm Bureau president Craig Lang to run for Iowa ag secretary
The Leopold Center's toughest challenge might be to convince Iowa farmers -- and the powerful commodity groups and corporations backing them -- that its work is still critically needed."Having the ag community's support is essential to moving forward. It's key to our survival," said Robert Riley, CEO of Riley Resource Group in Pleasant Hill.Riley is one of 11 task force members charged with helping the center find a new path forward. They've been crisscrossing the state this summer, listening to what Iowans see as the center's priorities.The group expects to deliver a report by early next year.Research backed by the Leopold Center, charged with asking tough questions about agriculture's impact on the environment, has created tension between it and some farm groups, say Riley and others.The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University has backed hundreds of research projects over three decades that look at ways to mitigate ag's impact on the … [Read more...] about Leopold Center’s battle for new life begins with Iowa farmers, commodity groups