Gov. Branstad issues Disaster Emergency Proclamation to assist livestock producers and farmers impacted by drought PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Office of the Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:48

(DES MOINES)  - Today, Gov. Branstad issued a disaster emergency proclamation that will provide relief to Iowa farmers hit hard by the drought being experienced in the state.

This proclamation takes affect at noon today for the next 60 days.  The assistance comes in the form of a suspension of state laws and regulations affecting the transport of hay, straw and stover. The drought has destroyed or depleted sources of these products that are necessary for livestock production and feed.

Specifically, this proclamation allows for:

  • Overweight loads: Hay, straw and stover may be transported in loads weighing up to 90,000 pounds gross weight without obtaining an overweight permit normally required by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Overweight loads cannot travel on the interstate without a permit.  This proclamation applies to noninterstate roadways.  Specific axle weight limits do apply. Visit the Iowa DOT’s website to see the maximum gross weight table and determine the legal limits for your vehicle/trailer combination.  A vehicle that is overweight, but not overwidth, can travel at all hours.
  • Overwidth loads: A vehicle transporting these goods can be overwidth, without an Iowa DOT permit, if they do not exceed 12 feet 5 inches wide.  An overwidth load can travel on any road, including the interstate, as long as its gross weight does not exceed 80,000 pounds.  Movement must occur between the hours of 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset.  All flags, signs and lights normally required are still needed.
  • Overweight and overwidth loads: A vehicle transporting these goods can be both overwidth, up to 12 feet 5 inches, and overweight, up to 90,000 pounds.  However, these vehicles cannot travel on the interstate.
  • Driver hours of service: The driver hours-of-service regulations pertaining to persons transporting these specific agricultural goods are suspended. Certain rest periods must be provided to drivers to prevent fatigued or ill drivers from operating on the roadways.


For additional details, call 1-800-925-6469 or visit the Iowa DOT’s website at where a question and answer sheet can be found.

The proclamation reads as follows:




WHEREAS, The State of Iowa is in the midst of a severe drought; and


WHEREAS, the drought has destroyed and depleted sources and stores of hay, straw, and stover necessary for livestock production and feed; and


WHEREAS, the lack of hay, straw and stover threatens the health and viability of Iowa livestock and the economic health and well being of Iowa livestock producers and the State of Iowa; and


WHEREAS, strict compliance with the permit and fee requirements of Iowa Code sections 321.454, 321.463, and 321E.29 and 761 I.A.C. 511 allowing overwidth and overweight loads, and strict compliance with the hours of service requirements of section 321.449 of the Iowa Code will prevent, hinder, or delay timely transportation and delivery of hay, straw, and stover necessary to protect and preserve Iowa livestock and Iowa livestock producers from the effects of the drought.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, by the power and authority invested in me by the Constitution, Article IV Sections 1 and 8 and Iowa Code section 29C.6(1), do hereby proclaim a state of disaster emergency for the entire State of Iowa.  Further, pursuant to Iowa Code section 29C.6(6), I hereby suspend the following regulatory provisions:


  1. I hereby suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code sections 321.463, paragraphs “5.a” and “5.b” and 321E.29  and 761 I.A.C. 511 to the extent that those provisions restrict the movement of overweight loads of hay, straw, and stover only and require a permit to transport such loads.  Suspension of these provisions applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa, excluding the interstate system, and which do not exceed a maximum of 90,000 pounds gross weight, do not exceed the maximum axle weight limit determined under the nonprimary highway maximum gross weight table in Iowa Code section 321.463 paragraph “5.b” by more than twelve and one-half percent (12.5%), do not exceed the legal maximum axle weight limit of 20,000 pounds, and comply with posted limits on roads and bridges.

  2. I hereby suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code sections 321.454 and 321E.29  and 761 I.A.C. 511 to the extent that those provisions restrict the movement of overwidth loads of hay, straw, and stover only and require a permit to transport such loads.  Suspension of these provisions applies to loads transported on all highways within Iowa and which are a width of 12 feet 5 inches or less, are of a length that complies with Iowa Code section 321.457, are of a height that is 13 feet 6 inches or less, and are within the weight restrictions set forth in paragraph “1” above.  This paragraph and paragraph “1” above are intended to allow vehicles transporting hay, straw or stover only to be overwidth but not overweight, not exceeding 12 feet 5 inches, on all highways within Iowa including the interstate system without a permit, and to be overwidth and overweight, not exceeding 12 feet 5 inches and 90,000 pounds gross weight, on all highways within Iowa, excluding the interstate system, without a permit, but only for the duration of this proclamation. 

    Persons transporting hay, straw, or stover without a permit under authority of this declaration are responsible for assessing and determining their route and should consult Iowa Department of Transportation travel information at to determine road closures and restrictions.

    Movement of vehicles operated without a permit under authority of this declaration that are overwidth shall be permitted only during the hours from one-half-hour before sunrise to one-half-hour after sunset, and shall comply with the flags, signs, and lights requirements applicable to overwidth vehicles set forth in 761 I.A.C. 511.15(3).

  3. I do hereby suspend the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code section 321.449 pertaining to hours of service of motor carriers and drivers of commercial motor vehicles, only while transporting hay, straw, or stover during the duration of this proclamation.

4.       Nothing contained in this declaration shall be construed as an exemption from the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements (49 CFR 382), the commercial drivers license requirements (49 CFR 383), the financial responsibility requirements (49 CFR 387), or any other portion of the regulations not specifically identified in this proclamation.

5.       No motor carrier operating under the terms of this proclamation shall require or allow a fatigued or ill driver to operate a motor vehicle.  A driver who informs a carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given at least ten consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to service.

6.       Upon the request of a driver, a commercial motor carrier operating under this proclamation must give a driver at least 34 consecutive hours off when the driver has been on duty for more than 70 hours in any eight consecutive days.

7.       Motor carriers that have an out-of-service order in effect may not take advantage of the relief from regulations that this declaration provides under title 49 CFR 390.23.

8.       This proclamation only applies to hours of service of motor carriers and drivers of commercial motor vehicles while transporting hay, straw, or stover only.

9.       Upon the expiration of the effective date of this proclamation, or when a driver has been relieved of all duty and responsibility to provide direct assistance to the emergency effort, a driver that has had at least 34 consecutive hours off duty shall be permitted to start his or her on-duty status hours and 60/70 hour clock at zero.

This proclamation of disaster emergency becomes effective at noon on the twenty-sixth day of July, 2012 and expires 60 days from the date issued.  The Iowa Department of Transportation is directed to monitor the operation of this proclamation to assure the public’s safety and facilitate the movement of vehicles involved.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto subscribed my name and caused the great seal of the State of Iowa to be affixed. Done at Des Moines this 26th day of July in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve.




Take Precautions When Feeding Drought Damaged Corn as Silage PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:42
AMES, Iowa ― When a corn plant is stunted, or not growing normally, nitrates can build up in
the plant. Typically, nitrogen that is taken up by the corn plant is converted to amino acids ―
the building blocks of protein ― but in the stressed plant this conversion does not occur. And
that’s why producers need to know how to handle and feed drought-damaged corn in silage form,
according to Steve Ensley, of Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic and Production
Animal Medicine (VDPAM) department.

“The nitrate level can be high enough in stunted plants that if harvested as silage the nitrate can
be toxic to livestock that consume the silage,” Ensley said. “The most common problem is when
drought stressed corn is green chopped and fed to livestock without going through ensiling.”

Ensiling will lower the amount of nitrate in the plant. Nitrogen availability to the plant, which
will depend on recent rain, fertilizer applied and other factors, will affect the level of nitrate in
the plant. If producers are planning on making silage from drought damaged corn, the only way
they can be sure about the level of nitrate is do some sampling and testing of the corn silage
before feeding.

“Producers have several options to help determine whether nitrate toxicity might be a problem,”
Ensley said. “Assess the corn field that will be harvested to determine how much of the field
has stunted corn that’s not developing a normal ear. Take samples either by taking grab samples
of silage cut by a forage chopper or by cutting several entire plants by hand that represent the
various types of corn in the field.”

A quick test that will screen for the presence of nitrates in stalks without having to chop the
stalk can be done by ISU Extension beef and dairy specialists. A drop of diphenylamine in
sulfuric acid on the surface of a stalk split in two will turn a blue-black color if nitrate is present.
However, this does not provide a concentration of nitrate. Availability of this screening test
varies. In some cases, the screening test may be a part of drought meetings where the beef or
dairy field specialists are present.

Other options include getting a representative sample of several stalks and performing a
strip test, which can help determine the concentration of nitrate by sending in a sample. ISU
Extension beef and dairy specialists also will have capability for this, but due to the time
required to prepare the sample for analysis the availability will be more limited than the
screening test. Samples also can be sent to commercial feed analysis labs, or your veterinarian
can send samples to the Iowa State veterinary diagnostic lab.

For more information on nitrate toxicity in drought damage corn silage, see the fact
sheet “Nitrate Toxicity” on the Iowa Beef Center website. Producers also can contact their ISU
Extension beef specialist or dairy specialist. Additional drought-related information is available
on the Extension and Outreach Dealing with Drought website and the Iowa Beef Center website.


News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Laurie Johns   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 15:37

Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit Brings National Media, Hundreds of Farmers to Ames

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – July 25, 2012 – Impacts of the most widespread drought to hit Iowa topped many expert panel discussions during the Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit this week in Ames.  More than 400 Iowa farmers and agribusiness industry leaders came to Scheman Auditorium July 23-24 for perspectives from national experts in banking, fiscal policy, commodity marketing and climate change.

Many panelists at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF)-sponsored event agreed the agricultural sector is constantly evolving and currently highly volatile. Planning is crucial to maintain economic sustainability for Iowa farmers, currently impacted by drought-squeezed yields, rising farmland values and livestock feed costs.  “The consistent message was make long-term plans, and make sure you’re grounded in reality,” said IFBF Director of Research and Commodity Services David Miller.  “Land prices topping $10,000 to $15,000 an acre involve a lot of emotion, both for sellers and the buyers.  Multiple experts at our event agreed it is vital our farmers have long-term repayment capacity to weather the many variables that affect their bottom line,” said Miller.  “Drought impacts on the nation’s leading grain-producing states are driving corn and soybean prices through the roof now, but the reality is there is no guarantee this price rally is sustainable.  Yield prospects vary stalk-to-stalk this year, and we won’t know what our yields will be until we’re in the fields for harvest.”

Economist Danny Klinefelter of Texas A&M University and Jeff Plagge, president & CEO of Northwest Financial Corp., and vice-chair of the American Bankers Association, to Iowa State University climatologist and weather expert Elwynn Taylor, a panel of D.C. experts from the Senate and House Ag Committees and Daniel Mitchell of the D.C. ‘think tank,’ the CATO Institute, were among the nationally-recognized monetary, policy, trade and economic experts tapped for the July IFBF economic summit.

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About Iowa Farm Bureau

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide organization dedicated to enhancing the People, Progress and Pride of Iowa.  More than 153,000 families in Iowa are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve farm and rural prosperity.  For more information about Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit the online Newsroom page at

Iowa Projects Awarded New Obama Administration Investments to Drive Innovations in Biofuels and Biobased Products PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:30

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2012 – As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to enhance U.S. energy security, reduce America's reliance on imported oil and leverage our domestic energy supply, while also supporting rural economies, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Energy today announced a $6 million investment in two Iowa projects that will drive more efficient biofuels production and feedstock improvements.

“If we want to develop affordable alternatives for oil and gasoline that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need investments like these projects to spur innovation in bioenergy,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By producing energy more efficiently and sustainably, we can create rural jobs, boost rural economies and help U.S. farmers, ranchers and foresters prosper.”

“As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy to deploy every available source of American energy, we continue to strive for more efficient, cost-competitive technologies to produce U.S. energy,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The investments announced today are helping to accelerate innovation across America’s growing biofuels industry, which will help to reduce our dependence on imported oil and support job creation across rural America.”

New Biomass Research and Development Initiative Investments


Through the joint Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI), USDA and the Energy Department are working to develop economically and environmentally sustainable sources of renewable biomass and increase the availability of renewable fuels and biobased products. The five projects announced today will help to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio and replace the need for gasoline and diesel in vehicles.

The cost-shared projects include:

  • Quad County Corn Cooperative ($4.25 million – Galva, Iowa). This project will retrofit an existing corn starch ethanol plant to add value to its byproducts, which will be marketed to the non-ruminant feed markets and to the biodiesel industry. This project enables creation of diverse product streams from this facility, opening new markets for the cooperative and contributing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s goals for cellulosic ethanol production and use.

Additional information on the Biomass Development and Research Initiative is available HERE.

Leveraging Genomics for More Efficient, Cost-Effective Bioenergy


Today, the Energy Department and USDA are also announcing $10 million for eight research projects aimed at applying biomass genomics to improve promising biofuel feedstocks and drive more efficient, cost-effective energy production. These projects will use genetic mapping to advance sustainable biofuels production by analyzing and seeking to maximize genetic traits like feedstock durability, how tolerant feedstocks are to various environmental stresses, and the potential for feedstocks to be used in energy production.

A full list of the projects selected today is available HERE. The projects selected today include:

  • Iowa State University ($1.4 million - Ames, Iowa). Research will explore the genetic architecture of sorghum biomass yield component traits identified using field-based analysis of the feedstock’s physical and genetic traits.

Since 2006, the Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy research program has invested nearly $70 million helping to identify key genes affecting biomass yield and quality in feedstocks and to accelerate breeding efforts to improve bioenergy-relevant traits.

More information is available HERE.

The Energy Department also released today a new video, Biofuels 101, highlighting how technological advances are increasing biofuel efficiency and reducing production costs.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Tell Congress "Pass the Farm Bill now" PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Bruce Braley   
Wednesday, 25 July 2012 13:22
The drought in Iowa is bad. And it's just getting worse every day without rain. In fact, some farmers might even be looking at total losses this year if things don't change soon.

While we can only pray for wet weather, we can do something right now to help farmers -- and consumers -- in desperate need of our assistance.

The 2012 Farm Bill is the single most important piece of legislation affecting Iowa and Iowa's economy, but Republican leaders in the House are fighting amongst themselves in a petty tug of war. Iowa farmers don't have time for a family squabble.

What's worse is that much of the assistance to help farmers during drought has expired from the last Farm Bill and many farmers have been left without a safety net. This will be devastating for Iowa's economy if Congress doesn't act now.

Join me in urging Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to bring the Farm Bill to the Floor of the House before they leave for vacation in August.

It's not often every single member of the Iowa Congressional delegation -- Republicans and Democrats -- agree on something. And passing the Farm Bill immediately makes real Iowa common sense for farmers, consumers, and Iowa's economy.

There's no excuse - Republican leaders in the House must bring up this bill for a vote. Providing relief to our family farmers now will have a big impact on Iowa's economy and assist farmers trying to make ends meet during this horrible disaster.

Tell Republican leaders in Congress: Bring up the Farm Bill for an up or down vote now! Iowans deserve your immediate action.

Thanks for all you do.


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