Environment & Weather
Branstad, Reynolds HSEMD Director Schouten encourage storm readiness PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Monday, 05 May 2014 09:37

(DES MOINES) – Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds were joined today at their weekly news conference by Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD) Director Mark Schouten to encourage Iowans to be prepared during severe weather season.

“Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and I offer our sympathy to families who lost loved ones in the storms that raced across Iowa on April 27th, and our support to the communities that sustained damage,” said Branstad. “Being prepared for a storm, no matter the season, is the best way to protect yourself and families from dangerous weather.”


“Governor Branstad and I, along with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, stand ready to assist Iowans and their communities when severe weather strikes,” said Reynolds. “It’s critically important for Iowans to take the necessary precautions ahead of inclement weather. We urge Iowans to take time to prepare for this spring and summer’s storm season.”

Iowa HSEMD outlined 3 easy steps Iowans can take to be ready for severe weather:

Step 1: Be aware

  • The most important thing you can do is to stay aware of the potential for bad weather in your area.
  • Tune into local television and radio stations, purchase a weather radio, or install a weather alert app onto your mobile phone to receive the most up-to-date weather information.
  • When weather alerts are issued, act quickly to stay safe.

Step 2: Make An Emergency Plan

  • Sit down with your family and talk about what you will do if there is a severe weather alert issued for your area or if there is a danger of flooding.
  • Don’t forget to make plans for those with special needs, such as elderly family members, and also for your pets.

Step 3: Build an Emergency Supply Kit

Keep a kit at home and in your car in case you must shelter in place or quickly evacuate your home.

Include in your kit items such as:

  • Water and non-perishable food for 3-5 days
  • A first aid kit
  • A battery-operated flashlight and radio along with extra batteries
  • Special items, such as prescription medications, baby formula, diapers and pet food
  • Copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance information.

“At the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, our job is to ensure Iowa and Iowans are prepared and ready to respond to emergencies and disasters,” said Iowa HSEMD Director Mark Schouten. “Our message to all Iowans is to take steps now to be prepared for the next round of severe weather. Just taking a few minutes today to think it through and know what you will do can help keep you and your family safe.”

To get additional details and tools, including a brochure that outlines how to plan and prepare, visit www.beready.iowa.gov.


"We don't know what normal is anymore": Confronting Extreme Weather on U.S. Farms PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Jackie Wei   
Friday, 02 May 2014 13:52

Matt Russell has seen strange weather before.  As a fifth-generation Iowa farmer, he’s used to being at the whims of the skies.  But ominous changes are underway at his Coyote Run Farm, and lately, he’s been trying to cope with “the wrong weather at the wrong time.”

Like Matt, I grew up as the fifth generation on my family’s farm.  In fact, my 83-year-old grandfather, Art, is out planting corn with my dad this week. In Art’s eight decades in the field, he’s seen his share of tough times.  When he was just a little boy, he saw his family’s crops wither up, die, and blow away into the Dust Bowl.  Like many American families, the Great Depression tested our family’s commitment to farming.

But we persevered, and out of the devastation of the Dust Bowl, a new era of hope and progress for American farmers was born.  Under the leadership of the US Department of Agriculture, farmers began viewing soil conservation as a key risk management tool.  On our farm and many others, we learned that protecting the soil was paramount to surviving future dry years.  And although dry times like the 1950s and 1980s were challenging, the conservation lessons learned from the Dust Bowl era lessened their impact on my family’s operations.

Now, we are at another critical moment for agriculture.  Climate change is bringing more frequent and severe weather challenges, unlike any that farmers have seen before, and already farmers are feeling the effects.  Countless scientists agree that climate change will affect every part of our food system—from crop yields to food processing and distribution.  More dry days and hot nights will stress already limited water resources.  Ironically, when it does rain, it will pour, exacerbating soil erosion.  Farmers will need to confront new challenges from weeds, diseases and pests. But farmers don’t need a scientist to tell them times are tough.  They can just look out their windows.  Listen to what Arlyn Schipper, a Conrad, Iowa farmer, has to say:

So how will we confront the climate challenge facing American farmers?  Will we ignore the ominous reality of climate change?  Or will we take steps to improve farms’ resiliency to extreme weather and prevent the worst impacts of climate change?

We know what needs to be done. We learned after the Dust Bowl that farmers have one of the best “insurance policies” right beneath their boots—their very own soil.  Healthy soil is more resilient to extreme weather events like droughts and floods because it can filter and hold more water.   The new “normal” of climate change calls for us to redouble our efforts to build healthy soil.  NRDC’s “Soil Matters” report describes how we can build farms that are more resilient to climate change by encouraging low risk, water-smart practices that regenerate soil.  Under NRDC’s proposal, farmers who adopt proven techniques, like cover cropping, to reduce their risk of crop loss would receive a discount on their crop insurance policies.  This could be done under existing law, and could have widespread benefits for farmers, taxpayers, and the environment.

But the longer we wait, the harder the job will be. Scientists agree that the increased concentration of heat-trapping carbon pollution in our atmosphere is the key reason that our climate is changing, and power plants are responsible for nearly half of that pollution.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the first carbon pollution limits for future power plants, and is on track to propose limits for existing power plants by early June.  These new protections will help reduce the carbon pollution that is threatening American agriculture and our food security.

After the Dust Bowl, American farmers didn’t throw up their hands in despair.  They got to work, planting windbreaks, building terraces and making conservation a way of life.  Now it’s our turn.  Climate change is a tough challenge, but we know what we need to do.  We need to regenerate our landscapes to build resilient farms, and we need protections from the power plant carbon pollution that’s threating our food supply.  It’s time to act.  The next five generations of farmers depend on it.

Living Lands & Waters Event Rescheduled PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Wednesday, 30 April 2014 09:04

Due to weather conditions, Living Lands & Waters has officially rescheduled their upcoming acorn planting event to Wednesday May 7th from 9:00am – 12:00pm.

Parking is available at the Davenport Library; 6000 Eastern Avenue, Davenport IA.  Please contact us with any questions.

Thank You, Natalie Linville-Mass,309-948-1436

Convoy of Hope Responds to Tornadoes in Midwest PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Molly Erickson   
Tuesday, 29 April 2014 12:43

Assessment Teams Headed to Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – April 28, 2014 - International humanitarian relief organization, Convoy of Hope, has assessment teams en route to affected areas throughout the Midwest where tornadoes ravaged communities yesterday.

“Our prayers are with the families whose lives have been impacted by these storms,” says Hal Donaldson, president and co-founder of Convoy of Hope. “Our teams will provide crucial information that will help us as we make plans in the coming days and monitor additional severe weather forecasted in these areas throughout the week.”

Online donation:

Those wishing to make a contribution to Convoy of Hope can make a secure online contribution by visiting: www.convoyofhope.org.

Text to Give donation:

To place a $10 donation on your cellular bill, text the word CONVOY to 50555. Standard text and data rates apply.

About Convoy of Hope

Convoy of Hope, a faith ­based organization founded in 1994, has a driving passion to feed the world. With a long history as an early responder in times of natural disasters, Convoy of Hope has been a Four Star Charity as recognized by Charity Navigator for 11 consecutive years. In the last 20 years, Convoy of Hope has served more than 65 million people. For more information please visit http://www.convoyofhope.org.

USDA Awards Research Grants to Address the Impact of Climate Change on U.S. Agriculture Production PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Office of Communications   
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 13:52

Des Moines, Iowa, April 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded $6 million to 10 universities to study the effects of climate on agriculture production and develop strategies to provide farmers and ranchers with the solutions they need to supply the nation with quality food. Vilsack made the announcement during remarks at "The Frontier of Climate Change: State and Local Action in the Heartland" conference held at Drake University.

"With longer growing seasons and an increased number of extreme weather events, climate-related changes are increasingly posing new challenges and risks for America's producers," said Vilsack. "Every day, farmers and ranchers see the impact that changes in climate patterns have on their operations, and they are contending with drought, floods or extreme temperatures. The discoveries these grants will lead to will be invaluable for American farmers whose livelihoods directly depend on the nation's land and water resources."

NIFA made the awards through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) funding opportunity in the Climate Variability and Change challenge area. NIFA's climate work is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration in agricultural and forest production systems and preparing the nation's agriculture and forests to adapt to changing climates.

The fiscal year 2013 awards announced today include:

  • University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo., $900,000 - This study will provide an integrated social and biophysical assessment of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change and variability in the Blue Mountains ecoregion of Oregon.
  • Florida International University, Miami, Fla., $250,000 – This project will study the mechanism of Ochratoxin-A toxicity in wine-musts (freshly pressed grape juice for wine making) which is predicted to intensify in winemaking regions because of the increased prevalence of the toxin producing fungi in warmer climates, and create an inexpensive and simple method of detoxification.
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $550,000 - The goal of this research is to examine factors that either facilitate or hinder climate adaptation, while assessing the role of human-made infrastructure and policies that protect natural resources, grassland and wetlands. .
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich., $975,000 – This project will seek to define the effects of hot and cold temperatures on turkey growth and development and develop management practices to mitigate these effects.
  • University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minn., $25,000 – This is a conference grant to support the National Extension Climate Science Initiative Conference, which will empower Extension professionals and collaborators with the latest in climate science research and delivery methods.
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $800,000 – This project will determine what effects a climate-induced rise in water temperature will have on rainbow trout gut microbial communities and fish metabolism.
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $600,000 – This project will evaluate the resiliency of rice production with increasing climate uncertainty by developing models integrating historical rice yield data at the county and farm level, weather variables, and genotypic parameters.
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., $1,000,000 - The project will provide some of the first climate adaptation tools for beef production systems in the form of water management resources and lead to the development of beef cattle that are adaptable to climate change induced drought.
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa., $750,000 – This project aims to strengthen farm operators' capacity to manage cropping system's adaptation to climate change by providing real time online decision making tools.
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.V., $150,000 – This project will study the effect of climate change on interactions among solitary pollinator bees, bee parasites and crops.

AFRI is NIFA's flagship competitive grant program established under the 2008 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) renewable energy, natural resources and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.


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).


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