Civic News & Info
Beginning Farmers, Ranchers and Veterans go to Washington PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Elisha Smith   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:16

Travel to DC to lobby on beginning farmer and rancher issues


Washington, DC - On Monday, March 5th, several farmers, ranchers and military veterans from Nebraska, Montana, South Dakota and California will travel to Washington D.C to participate in a nationwide fly-in called, “Investing in the next generation of American Farmers and Ranchers” spearheaded by the Center for Rural Affairs and several other organizations. The fly-in will bring several new farmers and ranchers from the Great Plains to Washington for meetings at the USDA and on Capitol Hill regarding the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, including beginning farmer and rancher provisions in farm bill credit and conservation programs.

"The future of family farming and ranching depends, in large part on beginning farmers and ranchers being able to get started in agriculture. Public policy can and should help beginning producers overcome barriers to entry," said Traci Bruckner, Assistant Policy Director at the Center for Rural Affairs.

According to Bruckner, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act (H.R.3236) encompasses a national strategy for addressing the barriers facing beginning farmers and ranchers, addressing the issues that beginners identify as the greatest challenges.

“This bill makes an important investment in the next generation of farmers, one that far outweighs the minimal cost,” added Bruckner.

Farmers and ranchers from across the country will participate in a briefing, convened by the Center for Rural Affairs, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, California FarmLink and Land Stewardship Project, to share information and personal stories about the challenges they face as well as potential policy solutions with Senators, Representatives, Congressional staff and other interested parties - including members of the media. Participating farmers and ranchers will focus on proposed legislation that addresses barriers to getting into agriculture and invests in fostering a new generation of American family farmers and ranchers through the following:

  • enabling access to land, credit and crop insurance for new producers,
  • assisting new producers in launching new value-added farm and ranch ventures,
  • helping new producers become good stewards of their land,
  • providing training, mentoring and research that beginners need to be successful,
  • conducting outreach opportunities for military veterans to get involved in farming and ranching.

Media Availability - to arrange for interviews while these young farmers and ranchers are in Washington, or upon their return, please contact Elisha Smith ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or John Crabtree ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) via email or by calling 402.687.2100.

WHAT: “Investing in the Next Generation of American Farmers:” a briefing on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act.

WHEN: March 5, 2012 from 10:00 – 11:00 AM, EST (House briefing)
March 5, 2012 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM, EST  (Senate briefing)

WHERE: House briefing:  1302 Longworth House Office Building
Senate briefing:  328-A Russell Senate Office Building

WHO: Jason Frerichs, a fourth generation farmer and rancher from Wilmot, South Dakota, will be presenting at the briefing. Frerichs raises corn, soybeans, and wheat.  He also manages a beef cow/calf operation, and has used conservation practices to implement rotational grazing practices on his operation.

Justin Doer, a farmer, rancher and military veteran from Plainview, Nebraska will also be presenting. Justin believes the veteran provisions in this bill would help beginners like him. He is also interested in conservation programs to help expand his operation.

Dave Fikel, from Ontario, California is a farmer and military veteran who grows chickens raised on organic feed and pasture to sell to local markets. He secured a federally guaranteed loan from a community based non-profit organization to start his farm in 2010.

Doug Crabtree and Anna Jones-Crabtree farm 1,280 acres north of Havre, Montana. They manage production and marketing risk by using diverse crop rotations but are concerned that they cannot purchase crop insurance for some well-adapted crops such as rye, flax and buckwheat. They have accessed NRCS conservation programs such as EQIP and CSP to support their conservation practices and provide additional revenue to their operation. They credit FSA beginning farmer loan programs with giving them an opportunity to farm.

For pictures of some of the participants visit:
Jason Frerichs - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cfra/6947117275/in/photostream

Doug Crabtree - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cfra/6947116319/in/photostream/

Anna Jones-Crabtree - http://www.flickr.com/photos/cfra/6947116249/in/photostream/


 
Iowa Legislative Update PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Peggy Huppert   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 13:12

The week did not start off well! The House Appropriations Committee on Monday passed the Health & Human Services spending bill, which again zeroes out spending for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. We immediately sent out an Action Alert to our advocates, generating 110 responses to 60 legislators. That is great, but we could use more. It’s not too late to have your voice heard!  Click here to take action.  The bill, HF 2435, will likely be debated next week by the full House.

Remember the bill that would prohibit the use of all tobacco products on school property? (It passed the Senate overwhelmingly last session 44-5 but is now stuck in the House because of opposition by the leaders.) The good news is it is part of the Senate education reform bill, thanks to Sen. Herman Quirmback, D-Ames.  And Rep. Kevin Koester, R-Ankeny, plans to offer an amendment to the House education reform bill to put it in. We have speakers lined up for a public hearing on the education bill on Monday evening at the Capitol to talk about why this should be part of the bill. If you are interested in speaking, contact Justin – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Our Iowa Health Advocates group geared up for presentations to senators yesterday, talking about what we want to see in a bill establishing an Iowa Health Insurance Exchange. Four representatives (including me) of our 35-member coalition testified to eight senators about the importance of the Exchange, since it could potentially help over 1 million Iowans enroll in health insurance with no pre-existing condition exemption starting in 2014.  Insurance industry representatives also testified. A bill on the Exchange sponsored by Sen. Jack Hatch, D-Des Moines, (SF 2042) is on the Senate debate calendar. Watch for action on that in the next several weeks. You can read my testimony here.

Finally, if you are free on Monday, March 12th, at noon consider coming up to the Capitol (Room 116) to hear Dr. George Weiner present a Lunch & Learn about cancer research happening at the University of Iowa. I guarantee you will find it fascinating.

As always, feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
Region 6 Homeland Security Board and Safeguard Iowa Partnership Announce Week 4 of “20 Weeks to Preparedness Program” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Ross E. Bergen   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 12:59
Release Date: March 5, 2012
Release Number: 5

Welcome to Week 4 of the 20 Weeks to Preparedness Program brought to you by the Region 6 Homeland
Security Board and Safeguard Iowa Partnership. This program will help prepare you and your family, a little at
a time, over a 20 week period. Each week new preparedness information will be shared including a list of items
to gather or purchase for your disaster supply kit. Sign up at www.safeguardiowa.org/subscribe-to-be-prepared
to receive weekly reminders and announcements related to the 20 Weeks to Preparedness program.

Use this program to gather items for your kit in small steps over a five month period. Remember to change
and replace perishable items by the expiration date. Purchasing the food suggested by this program would last
approximately 3-5 days.

Place in storage bin:

Five gallon bucket with lid
Plastic tarp
Work gloves
Ready-to-eat meals

Personalized Item (if applicable):

Special diet foods

To do:

Arrange for emergency care for children, elders, and/or pets. Remembering to think about all
the “what ifs” will result in better plans and execution in the event of an actual disaster.

Additional assistance is available by contacting your Scott County Emergency Management Coordinator
at 563-484-3050 or visiting their website at www.iascema.com. Visit Safeguard Iowa Partnership at
www.safeguardiowa.org, on twitter @safeguardiowa or Facebook at www.facebook.com/safeguardiowa.

The Region 6 Homeland Security Board is comprised of fourteen counties in eastern Iowa that coordinate homeland security planning,
training, exercise, response, and recovery. The counties included are Benton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton,
Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Linn, and Scott.

The Safeguard Iowa Partnership is a voluntary coalition of the state's business and government leaders, who share a commitment to
working together to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters in Iowa.

 
Coast Guard protects mariners, environment, maritime transportation system PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Cmdr Chris O'Neil   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 08:14
3 cases demonstrate impact of Coast Guard missions

WASHINGTON — Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, Ore., has since Sunday taken action in three unrelated marine safety cases that has protected the environment, protected mariners and protected the maritime transportation system in the Port of Portland, Ore.

Sector Columbia River’s recent activity began around 11 a.m. Sunday with notification from the 648-foot, car carrier Morning Spruce of the vessel’s loss of engine power while 12 miles southwest of the Columbia River bar, leaving the vessel adrift in 12-foot seas.  The Coast Guard Captain of the Port issued an order directing the owner of the Morning Spruce to immediately contract for tow vessels to hold the ship offshore.  In addition to its cargo the Morning Spruce was reportedly carrying a combined 543,000 gallons of heavy oil, diesel and lube oil.

Engine power was restored around 3:30 p.m. Sunday and the Coast Guard monitored the progress of the vessel, escorted by the tug Kokua, as it cleared the Columbia River bar.  The Kokua and Morning Spruce were joined by another tug, the Vancouver, for the transit to Portland, Ore.  The Coast Guard then made preparations for an inspection of the Morning Spruce as it arrived in Portland.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland’s Port State Control Branch conducted an inspection of the Morning Spruce Tuesday, revealing numerous safety hazards, resulting in the detention of the vessel.  The safety hazards included excessive oil in machinery spaces, inadequate patches made on the vessel’s fire-main piping, heavy hydraulic oil leaks and inadequate fire control boundaries.  The control action will remain in effect until the violations are corrected and verified through follow up inspections.

Meanwhile, a Coast Guard Vessel Boarding and Safety Team from Sector Columbia River boarded the 738-foot freighter Laconia, Tuesday, as part of a port state control boarding.  Alerted by Customs and Border Protection agents already aboard, the Coast Guard team conducted alcohol tests of the master of the ship, suspecting the captain was intoxicated based upon CBP agents’ observations and their discovery of open containers of alcohol found within the captain’s stateroom.

As a result of the breathalyzer test, the Coast Guard boarding team removed the master and transferred him to the custody of Coast Guard Investigative Service agents.  The Coast Guard then required the owner of the Laconia to acquire a replacement for the ship’s captain prior to the freighter’s departure from its anchorage.

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port Columbia River issued bar closures Wednesday for Depoe Bay and the Siuslaw River due to dangerous high surf and offshore weather conditions.  The closure protects mariners and the maritime transportation system by reducing the risks associated with bar crossings made under severe conditions.

“Together, the actions taken by Sector Columbia River demonstrate how the Coast Guard preserves the maritime business commons by reducing the risk and uncertainty of the maritime environment and how the Coast Guard’s vigilant maritime safety and security presence enables American prosperity,” said Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, chief of media relations for the Coast Guard.  “According to the Port of Portland, more than 550 oceangoing vessels called upon facilities in the Port of Portland in calendar year 2011, carrying to and from the port more than 13.1 million short tons of cargo, including more than 941,000 short tons of breakbulk cargo, 197,000 containers, 4.7 million short tons of grain, 234,000 autos and 5.2 million short tons of bulk mineral cargo.”

 
OLSON’S OBSERVATIONS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Civic News & Info
Written by Steven Olson   
Wednesday, 07 March 2012 09:14

As you may have heard, House Democrats fled the Capitol in protest of two bills, each designed to defend Iowans’ right to bear arms. The first bill amends the Iowa Constitution to include an explicit right to bear arms and the second strengthens your right to self-defense. Both bills passed the House with the support all Republicans and a couple Democrats. The constitutional change would happen by surviving next session and a yes vote by the people. 

The House and Senate are again at odds again over property tax, mental health reform, and education. First, Iowa’s current commercial property tax rate is the second highest in the nation, whereas commercial and industrial property owners pay tax on 100 percent ofmarket value. Republicans want to reduce the taxable value of commercial and industrial property by 40 percent over an eight year period, while Democrats think that proposal will put local governments at risk. Second, the division on mental health isn’t that we should fix the many issues but rather how we should pay for it. As it stands the Republicans would like
to see the State fund this while the Democrats would rather property tax payers shoulder the burden. Third, on education, the House recently passed the Governor’s education bill with some changes while the Senate discarded the Governor’s plan and wrote one of their own.

The Ag Protection Act recently passed the Senate. This bill provides protection for Iowa’s agriculture community from fraudulent activities by prohibiting people from committing fraud to obtain access to an agricultural production facility. This week the floor debate has increased as we are taking up budget issues like IDALS DNR Environmental First Fund (budget target $35.7 mil), Economic Development Budget (appropriates $29.1 mil), Judicial Branch Budget ($156.1 mil), Justice Systems Appropriations Bill (Budget approx. $16 mil). These will probably be amended and sent back from the Senate so these amounts could change. If you have concerns or questions I can be reached at the Capitol by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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