Gov. Branstad reminds public of harvesting grass in state highway ditches PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad   
Monday, 23 July 2012 12:31

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad today encouraged farmers to harvest grass in the state highway right of way as a way to help combat this summer’s drought.

“Under the hot and dry conditions that the state is and has been experiencing, farmers are searching for alternative ways to feed their livestock. Harvesting grass along the side of state roads is an efficient and economical mean for farmers to maintain their livestock levels,” said Branstad.

Farmers are allowed to legally mow and bale grass on highway right of ways only during certain periods of the year as established by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Persons interested must have a permit, granted by the Iowa DOT, before mowing. The permit form can be found here. All work should be performed between 30 minutes after sunrise and 30 minutes before sunset.



For more information, please visit

Braley Tours Drought-Stricken Iowa Farm, Calls for Immediate Action on Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:56

Views impact of worsening drought on Iowa crops at farm near Palo, IA

Palo, IA – This afternoon, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) traveled to Gary and Vicki Owens’ farm near Palo, Iowa, to see firsthand the impact of this summer’s drought on Iowa corn and soybean crops.  Braley met with the family and toured the farm before calling on Congress to immediately consider and pass the 2012 Farm Bill.

“Iowa agriculture has been a bright spot in the economy,” Braley said.  “The drought not only threatens the livelihood of countless Iowa farmers, it could have ripple effects for our economic recovery.


“If Congress allows the Farm Bill to expire on September 30th, it would only compound the problem.  Much of the disaster assistance funding in the 2008 Farm Bill has already expired, leaving many farmers without a safety net this year.  Farmers need certainty and confidence in the farm safety net they depend on, especially now.  We need to do everything we can to get Iowa agriculture producers the help they need to get through this, and that starts with passing the Farm Bill.”

According to the US Drought Monitor, 59 percent of Iowa is currently considered to be experiencing “severe” drought conditions.

Braley held an emergency telephone town hall meeting last night on the worsening drought conditions, its impact on Iowa agriculture, and the Farm Bill.  This morning, Braley authored a bipartisan letter co-signed by all five members of Iowa’s US House delegation asking House leaders to immediately bring the Farm Bill up for an immediate vote.

The House Agriculture Committee endorsed a version of the 2012 Farm Bill last week, but House leaders have not indicated when it will be considered for a vote.

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The Means to Help Producers Impacted by Drought PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:53 logo

This week, we continued to see historic levels of drought grip much of our nation, impacting thousands of farm families. Although the hard work and innovation of our producers has fueled a strong farm economy in recent years, President Obama and I understand the major challenges this drought poses for American agriculture.

As of July 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 1,055 counties across the country as disaster areas due to drought. Significant portions of many crops are impacted – for example, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor report, 88 percent of our nation’s corn and 87 percent of our soybeans are in drought-stricken areas. Rising grain prices are threatening livestock and dairy operators with high input costs.

Our farmers and ranchers are no strangers to uncertainty – but it’s even harder to plan for the future when we don’t know how much more severe the drought will be.

Over the years, American producers have constantly innovated to meet new demands and adapt to new conditions, embracing new methods and utilizing new technology. The same innovative spirit that has positioned American agriculture as a global leader has helped to reduce the impact of the drought.

Nevertheless, the uncertainty of drought means this is a very difficult time for many. At President Obama’s direction, USDA is doing all it can within the Department’s existing authority to help.

Last week, I announced a final rule to simplify the process for Secretarial disaster designations – both to speed the process for producers and to reduce the burden on State government officials, who are also hard at work to help producers around the country cope with this disaster.

I reduced the interest rate for Farm Service Agency Emergency Loans, effectively lowering the current rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent to help ensure that credit is available for farm families who are hit by drought.

And finally, I announced that USDA has lowered payment reductions for Conservation Reserve Program lands that qualify for emergency haying and grazing in 2012, from 25 to 10 percent.

USDA officials are traveling to states around the country to see firsthand the impact of the drought, and we will continue to look for ways to help. But the fact is USDA’s legal authority to provide assistance remains limited right now. That’s because the 2008 Farm Bill disaster programs, which were implemented under President Obama, expired last year. Prior to the expiration, these programs helped hundreds of thousands of U.S. producers during disasters.

If Congress doesn’t act, USDA will remain limited in our means to help drought-stricken producers. That’s why President Obama and I continue to call on Congress to take steps to ensure that USDA has the tools it needs to help farm families during the drought. Disaster assistance for producers is also one of many reasons why we need swift action by Congress to pass a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill this year.

I know that many producers are struggling today with the impact of this historic drought. The President and I are committed to doing all we can to help farmers and ranchers in this difficult time.

As all of us across America hope for rainfall, and while USDA does all it can to assist America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities, I hope that Congress will do all it can to help us get the job done.

Braley Leads Iowa Delegation Letter Asking for Immediate Vote on Bipartisan Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:46

Failing to pass a Farm Bill will only make impact of drought worse


Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today authored a letter so-signed by all five members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation and sent to House leaders asking for an immediate vote on the bipartisan Farm Bill, especially in light of the worsening drought affecting Iowa and the Midwest.


Even though the House Agriculture Committee passed a version of the Farm Bill that earned bipartisan support last week, House Speaker John Boehner has not signaled when the bill will come to the full House for consideration.  The Senate passed their version of the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill last month.


“Iowa farmers are struggling through the worst drought in decades, and failing to pass a Farm Bill would only compound the problem they face,” Braley said.  “Much of the disaster assistance funding in the 2008 Farm Bill has already expired, leaving many farmers without a safety net this year.  If Congress fails to act by September 30th, the Farm Bill will expire and revert to the outdated 1949 Farm Bill.


“Just like millions of small businesses around America, farmers need certainty and confidence in the farm safety net they depend on.  Now more than ever, getting the Farm Bill done is too important for political games.”


Last night, Braley hosted a telephone town hall with Iowa farmers to discuss the Farm Bill and the impact of this year’s drought.


Braley has hosted a dozen listening sessions on the Food, Farm and Job Bill across eastern Iowa this summer. The listening sessions have taken Braley to Grinnell, Independence, Manchester, Marengo, Marshalltown, Peosta, St. Ansgar, Strawberry Point, Toledo, and Vinton.  Also, Braley joined USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at listening session events in Maquoketa and Cedar Rapids last month.


Text of the Iowa delegation’s letter to House leaders follows:




July 20, 2012


The Honorable John Boehner                       

Speaker of the House                         

H-232, the Capitol                       

Washington, DC  20510                         


The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Minority Leader

H-204, the Capitol

Washington, DC  20510


The Honorable Eric Cantor                        

Majority Leader                        

H-329, the Capitol                       

Washington, DC  20510                         


The Honorable Steny Hoyer

Minority Whip

H-148, the Capitol

Washington, DC  20510


Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader Cantor, and Minority Whip Hoyer,


We are writing today to request quick consideration of a multi-year farm bill on the House floor. As you know, the House Agriculture Committee favorably reported a bipartisan bill last week that is prepared for quick floor action. The need to extend assistance for farmers gets more urgent every day, given the worsening drought that is blanketing more than half the country.


Just like millions of small businesses across the country, farmers need certainty and confidence in the federal programs that affect their lives. In the United States some sixteen million jobs depend on the success of American agriculture, and the Farm Bill has a huge impact in our home state of Iowa. Agriculture and related industries account for one in six jobs in Iowa and contributes $72 billion into the state’s economy annually. Failure to quickly pass a farm bill will have a devastating impact on our constituents and the agriculture industry across the country.


As the agriculture industry across the country faces the worst drought in decades, we’re particularly concerned that failure to act on a farm bill quickly could only exacerbate the current challenges faced by thousands of farmers. Much of the disaster assistance funding in the 2008 Farm Bill has already expired, leaving many farmers without a safety net this year. Without action prior to September 30, the bill’s remaining programs will expire reverting to laws passed under the outdated 1949 Farm Bill. It is vital that we get a Farm Bill passed out of the House prior to the August recess.


Farmers feed our nation, and we need to make sure to provide them the tools they need so that they can continue to deliver safe, affordable food to the table. Every American has a stake in this bill.


Please do what you can to bring forward the multi-year Farm Bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee. We stand prepared to work with you in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this goal.




Bruce Braley

Tom Latham

Leonard Boswell

Steve King

Dave Loebsack



# # #

News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Friday, 20 July 2012 14:44

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – July 20, 2012 – Like many Iowa parents and homeowners, Ben Albright of Lytton set up the sprinkler on the Fourth of July. But it wasn’t for the enjoyment of his young son or for the sake of his scorched grass, it was for the comfort of his cattle. As temperatures climbed into the triple digits (again), Albright spent most of his time making sure his herd had access to shade and water.

“Even on hot holidays, farmers are taking care of their livestock,” said Albright. “It’s a 365-day, 24/7 type of job.”

This summer’s heat has caused near-drought conditions for much of Iowa; taking its toll on the crops and pastures. Livestock producers depend on both: grain for feed and pastures for grazing. Farmers are watching crop prices increase and seeing pastures dry up, so it takes extra effort to make the most of their water sources, pastures and buildings. According to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (, only 1 percent of Iowa’s pasture conditions are rated excellent, with 26 percent rated very poor. Farmers are concerned about providing enough forage for their livestock and protecting the soil and environment, as well.

Randy Dreher, a cattle farmer near Audubon, carefully manages his herd’s grazing systems, rotating the cattle among his pastures to allow the cattle to find sufficient forage and keep the areas growing and sustainable.

“I’ve worked closely with my Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) representative, setting up a system that provides many environmental benefits including increased water infiltration, reduced soil moisture evaporation and better manure distribution,” said Dreher.

Daily, Dreher measures how much forage the cattle eat, how much his pastures can supply and preparing himself to offer hay as a supplement.  Because of his close attention to managing his natural resources, he says he’s able to feed more cattle per acre than if he didn’t use such a system.

Over in Prairieburg in Linn County, Jason Russell is tending to his livestock, too, but he’s dealing with a different species and using different farming methods.

Russell raises hogs indoors, which means while the mercury climbs to the triple-digits outside, his animals have shade, water and food in comfortable surroundings. The barn is equipped with a 12-stage heating and cooling control system, sprinklers, fans and side curtains that can be raised and lowered.

“Raising hogs indoors is the right system for my family,” said Russell. “It allows us to successfully manage our resources and keep a close eye on our animals. The building is cool and comfortable in the summer and warm and dry in the winter time. It’s good for us and our animals’ health.”

Healthy animals mean healthy food. And that’s good for everyone when they go to the store to buy their favorite summer meals, including burgers and brats.



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