Iowa Learning Farms’ August Webinar Focuses on ‘Losing Ground’ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 18 August 2011 11:46

AMES, Iowa -- The Iowa Learning Farms’ (ILF) August webinar, to be held Wednesday, Aug. 17 at noon, will feature Rick Cruse. He will discuss the report “Losing Ground.” The webinar is part of a series, hosted by ILF, held on the third Wednesday of each month. The webinars are held over the noon hour through Adobe Connect. All that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access.

The “Losing Ground” report is based on research by Iowa State University (ISU) scientists and the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The report shows that Iowa farms are losing topsoil up to 12 times faster than government estimates. But, aerial surveys conducted by EWG indicate that soil erosion and runoff are worse than the research numbers suggest. Many fields are scarred by gullies that channel soil and chemicals into streams, which is not accounted for in ISU’s erosion estimates. Cruse is one of the ISU scientists who aided in the report, working with the Iowa Daily Erosion Project.

Rick Cruse is a professor of agronomy at Iowa State and director of the Iowa Water Center. His research focus is on soil management and soil erosion processes. He recently served on the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, a bioenergy advisory council to the chief U.S. EPA administrator and has served on the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. Cruse teaches two graduate level soil management classes at Iowa State.

To connect to the webinars, go to: Cruse will be able to answer questions from webinar “attendees” via the Adobe Connect chat box. The ILF website homepage contains links for archived webinars from previous months:

Upcoming Iowa Learning Farms webinars

Drake University’s Agricultural Law Center fellow Edward Cox will present information on the land tenure project with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in September. ISU agricultural and biosystems engineer Mark Hanna will discuss farm energy saving measures in October. Please contact ILF with other topic ideas for future webinar sessions.


Governor Signs Legislation to Support Farmers and Home Producers on State Fair Agriculture Day PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Katelyn Tye   
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 09:12

New Laws Promote Agriculture Tourism, Expand Homemade Food Sales and Ensure Consistent Regulation at Farmers’ Markets

CHICAGO – August 16, 2011. In honor of Agriculture Day at the Illinois State Fair, Governor Pat Quinn today signed three pieces of legislation to support Illinois’ agriculture industry and increase access to farmers’ markets for the growing cottage food industry. Senate Bill 840 allows certain homemade foods to be sold at Illinois farmers’ markets, and Senate Bill 1852 creates a task force to recommend statewide farmers’ market regulations. The Governor also signed House Bill 3244 requiring the state to develop a plan for increasing agriculture-related tourism opportunities in Illinois.

“The best way to celebrate Illinois’ agricultural strength is by making it easier for Illinois residents to buy fresh foods and support farmers and local economies,” Governor Quinn said. “Farmers’ markets allow us to buy fresh, healthy produce and other homemade goods directly from the people who make them, and this legislation will enable those business owners to sell directly to consumers while making sure safety standards are consistent for all markets throughout the state.”  

The popularity of farmers’ markets has surged in recent years, and a lack of consistent regulation at the increasing number of markets has created confusion about how products may be sold. Senate Bill 1852, sponsored by Sen. David Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) and Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), creates a task force to review the rules and laws defining what products can be sold at farmers’ markets, as well as sanitation and food preparation requirements. The 24-member task force will then assist the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) in developing and implementing administrative rules ensuring consistent statewide farmers’ market regulations.

Senate Bill 840, sponsored by Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) and Rep. Lisa M. Dugan (D-Kankakee), allows homemade foods like jams, cookies and cakes to be sold at farmers’ markets. Cottage food vendors must meet the following conditions for their products to be sold at Illinois’ farmers’ markets:

  • ·         Foods, such as baked goods, preserves, dry herbs or teas, must be safe for consumption;
  • ·         Food is sold only at a farmers’ market;
  • ·         Seller does no more than $25,000 a year in sales;
  • ·         Follows specific labeling requirements;
  • ·         The cottage food operation is registered with the local health department;
  • ·         The person preparing and selling the food has a valid Illinois Food Service Sanitation Manager Certificate; and
  • ·         A placard that states, “This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection that may also process common food allergens” is located where the food is sold.

Under House Bill 3244, sponsored by Rep. Kay Hatcher (R-Yorkville) and Sen. Kirk W. Dillard (R-Westmont), the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will develop and implement a statewide strategic plan to increase agricultural tourism. This builds upon existing efforts by the Quinn administration to strengthen Illinois’ agri-tourism industry.

DCEO and the Illinois Department of Agriculture have a long-standing partnership with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA) to promote the Illinois wine industry. Through the state’s tourism site,, visitors can learn more about the dozens of wineries and other natural and agriculture-related attractions nestled throughout the state. DCEO also assists in marketing agri-tourism tours that have been created among its industry partners, both domestically and internationally, and promotes the use of locally grown foods in its marketing efforts.

Senate Bill 1852 and House Bill 3244 go into effect immediately and Senate Bill 840 takes effect Jan. 1.


Local Muscatine residents get sneak peek into the life of an American farmer with new America’s Farmers Mobile Experience PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Kevin Stillman   
Monday, 15 August 2011 15:52

What: Ever wonder what it’s like to be a farmer today?  Curious about the men and women who care for the fields that you drive by?  Now people in Muscatine have the opportunity to take a look into the life of an American farmer and learn more about the vital role they play in the world of agriculture today through the America’s Farmers Mobile Experience.  Local farmer, Drew Yotter played a large role in bringing the traveling display to the Muscatine 50th Anniversary and will serve as the host of the Mobile Experience while it is here.

The new Mobile Experience is a traveling 53-foot trailer that expands into 1,000-square feet of exhibit space that immerses visitors in the lives of America’s farm families.  The tour is designed to educate consumers on modern agriculture and the challenges farmers face to meet the growing demands of the rapidly increasing world population.

Visitors will take a journey through three different focus areas with interactive tools and displays to better understand the life of an American farmer.

  • An interactive globe will allow visitors to see population growth and how many people one acre of farmland will need to feed to meet the demand of the growing population.
  • A 180-degree theater immerses visitors in a video experience that spotlights an American farm family and what they are currently doing to meet the world demand.  Hear three generations of farm women speak about what farm life means to them.
  • Ag educators serve as personal guides teaching guests about the tools and technologies, including breeding, biotechnology and agronomics, that help farmers meet current challenges.

When: Tours will run from:

8:00 am -4:00 pm on August 19

8:00am- 4:00pm on August 20  

Where: Muscatine 50th Anniversary

2500 Wiggins Road
Muscatine, IA 52761               

Who: Media and the general public are invited to tour the America’s Farmers Mobile Experience and speak with local farmers and Monsanto Ag Educators.

Background:     The Mobile Experience will tour the U.S. stopping at a variety of urban and rural events to give people the opportunity to learn more about every aspect of the farmer’s life, from food production to the challenges they face. For more information on Monsanto’s America’s Farmers’ efforts or its Mobile Experience, please visit


USDA Announces 19 USB Farmer-Director Appointments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Monday, 15 August 2011 12:40

Twelve Returning Directors, Seven New Directors Will Be Sworn In at Annual Meeting

ST. LOUIS (August 12, 2011) – Nineteen farmer-leaders will be sworn in as directors of the United Soybean Board (USB) in December, after receiving appointment recently by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The 19 soybean farmers from across the United States include seven new appointees and 12 returning directors. These volunteers work to invest checkoff funds on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers in the areas of domestic and international marketing, maintaining and increasing U.S. soybean yields, finding new uses for soy, ensuring market access for U.S. soy and other areas affecting the U.S. soy industry.

“It is our board’s job to wisely invest checkoff dollars to increase the profit potential of all U.S. soybean farmers,” said USB Chairman Marc Curtis, a soybean farmer from Leland, Miss. “Serving U.S. soybean farmers as part of USB takes a great commitment but is truly an honor as well.”

Appointed farmer-leaders include: 

•    Angela M. Dee, Ala.
•    Robert L. Stobaugh, Ark.
•    James L. Stillman, Iowa*
•    Larry K. Marek, Iowa
•    Dwain L. Ford, Ill.*
•    Michael A. Beard, Ind. *
•    Craig M. Gigstad, Kan.
•    Keith N. Tapp, Ky.
•    Eugene L. Lowe III, Md.*
•    R. Alan Moore, Mich.*
•    Scott G. Singlestad, Minn.*
•    J. Willard Spargo, Mo.
•    James D. Sneed, Miss.*
•    Loyd L. Pointer, Neb.*
•    Daniel J. Corcoran, Ohio*
•    Ellie W. Green Jr., S.C.
•    Robert J. Metz, S.D.*
•    John R. Butler, Tenn.*
•    Tom P. Rotello Sr., Texas*
•    James P. Buck, Ala. (alternate director)
•    Scotty J. Herriman, Okla. (alternate director)
•    Fitzhugh L. Bethea III, S.C. (alternate director)

* Indicates returning director.

All appointees, who will serve three-year terms, will be sworn in on Dec. 6 at USB’s annual meeting in St. Louis. Qualified State Soybean Boards nominated all of the soybean farmers selected by the agriculture secretary to serve on USB.

USB is made up of 69 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at
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Yard and Garden: Onions and Garlic PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Thursday, 11 August 2011 23:41

Harvesting vegetables at the right stage of maturity results in high quality, nutritious products. If properly harvested and stored, onions and garlic will keep most of their original flavor and food value for months. Iowa State University Extension specialists describe the correct harvesting and storage for these two vegetables. To have additional questions answered, contact the experts at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 515-294-3108.

When should you harvest onions?
Onions should be harvested when most of the tops have fallen over and begun to dry. Carefully pull or dig the bulbs with the tops attached.

What is the proper way to store onions?
After harvesting the onions, dry or cure the onions in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location, such as a shed or garage. Spread out the onions in a single layer on a clean, dry surface. Cure the onions for two to three weeks until the onion tops and necks are thoroughly dry and the outer bulb scales begin to rustle. After the onions are properly cured, cut off the tops about 1 inch above the bulbs. As the onions are topped, discard any that show signs of decay. Use the thick-necked bulbs as soon as possible as they don’t store well. An alternate preparation method is to leave the onion tops untrimmed and braid the dry foliage together.

Place the cured onions in a mesh bag, old nylon stocking, wire basket or crate. It’s important that the storage container allow air to circulate through the onions. Store the onions in a cool, moderately dry location. Storage temperatures should be 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The relative humidity should be 65 to 70 percent. Possible storage locations include a basement, cellar or garage. Hang the braided onions from a rafter or ceiling. If storing the onions in an unheated garage, move the onions to an alternate storage site before temperatures drop below 32 F.

What is the storage life of onions?
The storage life of onions is determined by the variety and storage conditions. When properly stored, good keepers, such as ‘Copra’ and ‘Stuttgarter,’ can be successfully stored for several months. Poor keepers, such as ‘Walla Walla’ and ‘Sweet Spanish,’ can only be stored for a few weeks. If the storage temperatures are too warm, the onions may sprout. Rotting may be a problem in damp locations. Inspect the stored onions on a regular basis in fall and winter. Discard any that are starting to rot.

When should you harvest garlic?
Harvest garlic when the foliage begins to dry. In Iowa, garlic is usually harvested in August or September. Carefully dig the bulbs with a garden fork or shovel.

How do you store garlic?
After harvesting the garlic, dry the garlic in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location. Place the garlic on an elevated wire screen or slotted tray to promote drying. When the tops have dried, cut off the dry foliage 1 inch above the bulbs. Also, trim off the roots and brush off any loose soil. Place the bulbs in a mesh bag or open crate and store in a cool (32 F to 40 F), dry (65 to 70 percent relative humidity) area. Garlic can be stored for three to six months if properly dried and stored. An alternate way to store garlic is to braid the foliage together immediately after harvest, dry and then hang the braided garlic in a cool, dry location.



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