Hawkeye Fans Invited to Help Replenish Johnson County Crisis Center and Statewide Food Banks by Bringing Donations to April 14 Spring Practice

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA -- April 4, 2012 -- As farmers begin the 2012 planting season in Iowa, the growing problem of hunger in Iowa is on their minds.

"Iowa farmers lead the nation in livestock and crop production and they're proud that their hard work and innovation brings more food and more choices for all Americans; that's why it's unacceptable to have a 30 percent increase in the number of families who visit food banks," says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Hill.

The Johnson County Crisis Center distributes 60,000 pounds of food a month and they're facing a critical shortage in both food and donations.  The Iowa Food Bank Association, a collaboration of the eight food banks which collects, coordinates and distributes food and essential supplies across the state, sees similar shortages.

"That's why IFBF is proud to support the ANF/ Food Bank Drive April 14 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City when fans of the UI football team get their first look at the 2012 Iowa football team.  We hope Hawkeye fans and all Iowans will show that they believe in taking care of their neighbors and friends in need," says Hill, a fourth generation livestock farmer from Milo.

Those who work with food banks in this state are grateful for the donations and the chance to spotlight a growing problem of hunger in Iowa.  "The current economy has brought higher mortgage rates, medical and fuel costs to more Iowans at a time when they're finding it tough to find a full-time job with benefits. It all adds to the problem of hunger in Iowa," says Jordan Vernoy, director of the Iowa Food Bank Association.  Many food banks are seeing a critical shortfall. "But, we want Iowans to know that it's so easy to help our neighbors in need; every one dollar donated can help us gather $15 of food donations," says Vernoy.

To encourage donations, the first 1,000 Iowa Hawkeye fans who bring a donation of cash or canned food to the Hawkeyes' open-to-the-public practice can receive ANF items.   There is no admission charge to attend the scrimmage and the gates open at 11 a.m.

ANF was first launched in 1985 during the height of the Farm Crisis, by legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry, who wanted to show an increasingly urban nation why agriculture matters.  For more information about the Iowa Farm Bureau/U of I ANF partnership, click on www.americaneedsfarmers.org.

To learn more about the growing number of Iowans in need and ways to help, click on http://iowafba.org/.

-30 -


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 www.iowafarmbureau.com.

At my last routine checkup, my doctor brought in a physician's assistant who was 'in training' and there to observe.  He stood there, scribbling, as I chatted about my insomnia, my diet, my stomach issues.  I had to trust that he really was there to learn, maybe even add new information about recommended prescriptions (being a new medical school graduate, he should have the latest information, right?) or help spot impending signs of illness or concern.  I had to trust he was there to learn, not there because he might 'dish' about private information he learned about recognizable patients in this respected doctor's office.

If I sound hesitant, it's because I've had my medical privacy invaded many times when I was a TV news anchor in Des Moines, so have others I've worked with.  I'm sure you'd agree it's absolutely justifiable to expect that everyone who helps care for their personal or family medical needs  is well-trained and professional enough to let them know immediately if they saw something 'out of line', 'out of whack' or potentially dangerous.

Putting those same concerns in another setting, it also seems reasonable to expect that if a person comes to work on an Iowa livestock farm, they're well-trained and professional enough to let a farmer (or law enforcement agent) know immediately if they see something 'out of line,' 'out of whack' or potentially dangerous when it comes to animals that are raised for our food.

Consumers are justifiably concerned about how animals they eat are treated on farms in Iowa.  I'm not saying the Ag Protection Bill just passed at the Statehouse is perfect, but at least it gets to the heart of the matter: trust.  I want to trust that if an animal is being mistreated on a farm, the person who sees it says something, and the person who does it, is removed or punished immediately.  It would also be nice if farmers could trust that people who work on their farms know what they're doing and stand up to correct or report bad behavior.

I understand we all are concerned about animals; we don't have to live and work with livestock animals every day to get that they deserve good food, timely medical attention and a compassionate, safe environment during their (somewhat short) lives.   Maybe that's why the majority of farmers speak out against bad actors when they see it because it's not just the industry that gets smeared when some grainy, heavily-edited, undercover video emerges; it also smears the character of the 99.9% of farmers who also wonder why someone would just stand there and watch.

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - February 28, 2012 - Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members are pleased to see Iowa lawmakers show support for Iowa's family farmers and securing our food supply by passing the Agricultural Production Facility Fraud bill.  The bipartisan Senate version of House File 589 would make it a crime for individuals to fraudulently gain access to a farm with the intent to cause harm.

"It's about misrepresentation of character," said IFBF President and Milo livestock farmer Craig Hill. "In a post 9/11 world, transparency is important for farmers and consumers alike. Responsible farmers take good care of their land and livestock and want to employ honest, hardworking people that have the welfare of their livestock as their top priority," said Hill.

The revised HF 589 creates new penalties for those who make false statements to gain access to a farm, or misrepresent themselves on an employment application to hide their intended misconduct or purpose.  The person who commits an offense would be charged with a serious misdemeanor on the first conviction and an aggravated misdemeanor on the second. It also penalizes organizations or persons who aid or abet someone who misrepresented facts to gain access to a crop or livestock farm.

"In order to raise and grow the healthiest animals and crops possible for the safest food possible, we need to be assured that hired workers and others entering our farms act ethically and responsibly," Hill said. "With that transparency comes trust that everyone working with our livestock also believes in the compassionate care of our animals; responsible Iowa livestock farmers don't tolerate bad actors who turn a blind eye on generations of established veterinary animal care standards; in fact, we think they should be removed immediately from animal care, if they really have the animal's best interests in mind," said Hill.

-30 -


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 www.iowafarmbureau.com.

My 14-year-old daughter is a quiet, serious soul who isn't prone to hysterics or drama, so you can imagine my reaction when I heard a shriek and a 'slam' come from her room this week.  Was it a mouse? A rabid raccoon in the backyard? No, the Internet had 'crashed' right as she was trying to access information while writing an English paper.

Teenagers, lawmakers and otherwise-sane-adults sounded a collective 'gasp' when more than 10,000 websites shut down in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act bill.   Millions of signatures and petitions were gathered in a single day because Americans wanted Congress to get this point: we need technology.

Well, here's my point: we also need to embrace technology in farming.  It seems farming is the only industry that people want to remain unchanged from the 60's, 70's or 80's.  Maybe that's because the last time many Americans were on a farm, it was before the Internet.  Back then, weeds from soybean fields were removed by roving bands of hoe-swinging, sweaty teenagers.   Back then, corn was put in the fields with six row planters (if you're lucky) and it took three days to harvest a 100-acre field and all that work would bring a farmer less than $2 per bushel.  Yields were a fraction of what they are today.   There weren't a lot of choices in production; farming was labor intensive and fewer farm kids went on to college because that's just the way things were.

Today, tractors are bigger, yields are bigger, and corn prices are twice what they were in the 80's.  That's not all that's gaining ground in rural Iowa today; college education levels, which once hovered around 10 percent in the 1980's, are now over 30 percent.  There are more choices in food production; you want organic?  Iowa farmers grow it.  You want conventional?  Iowa farmers grow it.  What you want depends on what you are able and willing to pay.

Clearly, technology in farming has brought more choices to you and me. I, for one, am glad for those choices, and the progress that made them possible.  It's food for thought; as you wheel your cart down the grocery aisle, armed with your iPhone-enabled QR-code price scanners, there's no going back.  And, for that matter, who would want to?

It's perfectly understandable why so many folks care how farmers care for the land; it doesn't just need to be protected because it feeds us, but because our fertile soils and watersheds always have and always will be Iowa's most valuable asset.

But there's a growing concern that some well-intentioned folks have taken efforts to be sustainable to a whole new level, calling for the sacrifice of property rights, food production and jobs for the sake of 'speciesism' (choosing plants or animals over people).  'Speciesism' seems to be 'de riguer' these days in Hollywood and national media, so that's probably why the subject packed the house this week at the 2012 American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting.

Rob Gordon, senior advisor for strategic outreach for the Heritage Foundation (http://www.heritage.org/about), says being environmentally-sustainable is important, but too often regulations are put in place which go beyond common sense. "Science has to be 'good science' which means it must follow scientific method. That means if you conduct an experiment and write down how you do it, I should be able to replicate your results.  Right now species are added to endangered lists based on 'best available data,' which doesn't mean rational, duplicated, sane or even scientific."

Gordon then went on to illustrate that point by way of the Pleistocene Snail.

The Pleistocene snail (http://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/Snails/iops_fct.html) is a tiny snail that lives on rocky outcropping areas in Iowa and was declared 'endangered' in 1978.  So, the government took over land and created the National Wildlife Refuge near Dubuque to protect the snails.  But, there were snags in maintaining the tiny creature's population because, according to Gordon, the biggest threats remained: the lack of an Ice Age and humans.  It seems well-intentioned environmentalists who went out to 'count' these tiny snails were killing them by accidentally stepping on them.   Since these tiny snails thrived in glacial conditions, the government deemed that the next best 'savior' for the Pleistocene is to keep the National Wildlife Refuge near Dubuque in place, and wait for the next Ice Age.

"Clearly, this is a case of speciesism and regulation run amok.  We have to remember that environmental policy can't be good environmental policy if it doesn't take people into account," says Gordon.

In an age when snails are deemed more important than farming, feeding people or employing them, something is wrong.  That's why folks like Gordon are out there reading the fine print, calling for people to ask questions and demand conservation efforts be based on repeatable, scientific results that take human beings into account.  Waiting for the government to realize this however, could take...until the next Ice Age.


Laurie Johns is Public Relations Manager for the Iowa Farm Bureau.                        1/11/2012

Fuel tax will generate funds to repair rural roads, bridges

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - January 4, 2012 -Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) supports the bipartisan legislative effort announced this week to fund the state's much-needed road and bridge repairs.

Iowa's largest grassroots farm organization announced support of a fuel tax back in October, when a Citizen Advisory Commission report concluded that raising fuel tax by 8 to 10 cents per gallon would be the most equitable, fairest way to fund Iowa's critical infrastructure needs.

"Senator Rielly and Representative Tjepkes both served on that task force and met with Iowans who told them that it's time to do something about Iowa's aging roads and bridges.  They are working together to address the long term challenges of providing adequate funding to repair our roads and bridges," said IFBF President Craig Hill.  "With rural roads making up nearly 90,000 miles of our state's 114,000-mile road system, our members know how critical those roads are for maintaining access to services across the state.  We believe a sound infrastructure is crucial for our state's current and future economic prosperity," said Hill.

"The Iowa Department of Transportation says we need $215 million a year to meet the critical needs of our transportation system.  Those needs will increase as our infrastructure ages and construction costs continue to climb.  We haven't raised fuel taxes since 1989 and our roads have deteriorated significantly since then.   An 8- to 10-cent per gallon fuel tax would generate $184 million to $230 million per year; it's the fairest way to assure all who drive on our roads help pay for the repairs," said Hill.

IFBF members have long supported a fuel tax to pay for road repairs.  In 2008 IFBF delegates passed policy calling for the fuel tax increase to repair the state's roads and bridges.


Oct. 15 UI ANF Game Day Features First-Ever 'Card Stunt' and Former Hawkeye/NFL Players

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - October 10, 2011 - Iowa is insulated against the worst of the nation's economic woes, thanks to the strength and influence of agriculture, according to a recent survey by Creighton University economists.  "Farming has contributed 5,000 manufacturing jobs in this state over the past year and that's just one more reason why we want to share the good news of today's agriculture," says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) President Craig Lang.

As part of the ANF partnership announced in August between the Iowa Farm Bureau and the University of Iowa Athletics Department, the football game this Saturday (Oct. 15) at historic Kinnick Stadium between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Northwestern Wildcats has been designated "ANF Day at Kinnick." The game, to be televised live on the Big Ten Network (BTN) at 6 p.m. CT, will feature a host of activities celebrating why America Needs Farmers, including a pre-game autograph session with former Hawkeye stars Jared DeVries, Tim Dwight, Marv Cook, Ed Podolak and Gary Dolphin at the Legend's Tent in the Krause Family Plaza located immediately south of the stadium.

Other activities include Tailgate Toss with ANF prizes and the UI's first stadium 'card stunt', where all fans in the four grandstands of Kinnick Stadium will, on cue, hold them up and deliver two designs and messages for the enjoyment of the 70,000 people in the stadium and the national television audience watching on BTN.

ANF was first launched in 1985 during the height of the Farm Crisis by legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry, who wanted to show an increasingly urban nation why agriculture matters.  "Farming has seen many innovations since then, which bring more food and energy choices and job opportunities to a new generation," says Lang, a fifth-generation Brooklyn, Iowa dairy farmer. "Today's farming isn't just about feeding people; it's about innovation in renewable energy, medicine, building materials, diagnostic tools, and more which combine what we know with what we grow."

Iowa farmers lead the nation in what they grow.  Just this week, the world celebrates the efficiency and sustainability of today's farmers through the 25th anniversary of the World Food Prize honoring another Iowa farmer, Norman Borlaug. "In less than a generation, the world's population will need 100 percent more food than we are growing today on a finite amount of productive land.  IFBF is always looking for ways to show consumers how we plan to do that, while maintaining the integrity of the land, water, and rural communities where our farmers raise their own children," said Lang.

Iowa farmers realize with an increasing number of consumers curious about innovations in farming and food production, they need to find ways to make farming more transparent.  Larry Sailer, a Hardin County Farm Bureau member who farms near Iowa Falls, says, "Anything you can do to start a conversation with consumers about food and agriculture is good. We want to know what questions they have about what we do and why we do it. And in a high profile event, like an Iowa Hawkeye football game, it's literally a new way to show them this whole new playing field of modern agriculture."

For more information about the Iowa Farm Bureau/U of I ANF partnership and additional ANF Game Day activities or merchandise, click on www.americaneedsfarmers.org.


ANF Game Day Celebrates Farmers, Features Former Hawkeye Legends

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - September 16, 2011 - Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) announced today that Farm Bureau members interested in attending the first America Needs Farmers (ANF) Game Day at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Oct. 15 can register to win tickets at www.iowafarmbureau.com.  The sold-out Big Ten Conference game against Northwestern includes autographs by former Hawkeye legends, including Tim Dwight, Jared DeVries and Marv Cook, along with other special surprises.

"ANF Game Day is an important event for farmers in Iowa.  It's a chance to show the nation and a whole new group of consumers just how important farming is today.  We know that in less than a generation, the world's population will need 100 percent more food than we grow today.  Since there is only so much land to grow that food, farmers will have to embrace progress and diversity," says IFBF President Craig Lang.

Each member who wins the ANF Game Day prize will receive free tickets to the game, ANF merchandise, admission to special tailgating activities and an opportunity for autographs of Hawkeye Legends.

ANF, initiated in 1985 by former Iowa Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry during the Farm Crisis, is embraced today by Hawkeyes' current head coach, Kirk Ferentz.

"Farming has changed considerably since the 1980's," said Lang. "The way we grow and raise food and energy today has changed dramatically, but so has our need. Much of the nation's innovation in renewable energy, medicine, building materials and diagnostic tools come from what we grow. The list continues to grow and so does our population, but the goal remains unchanged - making sure consumers have safe, wholesome food choices at the grocery store."

For a listing of rules and to register, click on www.iowafarmbureau.com by October 3. Winners will be notified within that week.  You must be a current member to win. To join Iowa Farm Bureau, visit www.iowafarmbureau.com.

For more information about the Iowa Farm Bureau/U of I ANF partnership, click on www.americaneedsfarmers.org.


I saw the movie, "Contagion," this weekend with my daughter.  I have to say, it's a good flick, good actors, fast-paced and slickly shot.  Without realizing it, the film makers may have inadvertently endorsed America's modern hog farms.  For one thing, raising hogs indoors protects them from disease-carrying wildlife, the very kind that caused the cross-species viral contamination featured in the movie.

(Spoiler alert!)

In "Contagion", Gwyneth Paltrow ('Patient Zero') inadvertently acquires a deadly (spreads by touch) viral infection in Hong Kong by shaking the unwashed hands of a chef  (note to all movie-goers: always wash hands before eating).  She didn't realize this chef had just prepared a dish from a hog that was exposed to a sick bat.  This pig was apparently raised in an open-air pen, where a sick bat flew overhead, then dropped a piece of fruit it just grabbed from a banana tree.  Pigs, true to nature, eat anything.  And so the story goes...

But, what I find interesting is that the Humane Society of United States' Wayne Pacelle is claiming "Contagion" actually makes a case for raising animals in the very conditions that put them at risk for contracting contagions from other species ( http://hsus.typepad.com/).  I'm wondering if he saw the same movie.

I grew up on a Century farm in Iowa and have many fond memories.  But, after seeing "Contagion," I think Hollywood's screenwriters could use a little 'chore time' on an actual, working farm to gain some perspective.

I saw birds, wild cats, stray dogs, raccoons and mice scrambling through our hog feedlot and roaming in the moonlight across our cattle pastures.  I remember the year wild dogs got our rooster (so much for my dad's egg-laying chicken farm idea), the year rabid skunks got into the hog lot (28 shots in the stomach for us, but the hogs were vaccinated, of course), and the daily roaming of a horde of much-loved, but unvaccinated feral cats.

Things were different back then.  Today, it's not just rabies vaccinations (three shots!)  that have improved, so has hog farming (http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid64340018001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAACMzGNIE~,z fiweksx8NKGXiTGxVmXug1yWfMOUJx&bclid=69776058001&bctid=918490352001).  Farmers who choose to raise their hogs in modern livestock barns say doing so protects them from exposure to wildlife, harsh weather and viruses that can be carried by any stranger who happens to wander onto the farm.

It's a choice.  Responsible farmers across Iowa work hard to give them to you.  There are many options for raising animals, both indoors and out.  But clearly, progress in American agriculture (versus overseas?) keeps our animals safer, our food safer and our families safer from the kind of Hollywood hysteria portrayed in "Contagion," and the kind of 'one size fits all' food production model Pacelle and the HSUS hype machine condones.

--- Laurie Johns

Farm Bureau Members Save up to $10,000 Through Exclusive Partnership

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - May 24, 2011 - Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members interested in creating more energy efficiencies of their homes and farms are now eligible for exclusive savings of $2,500 to $10,000 on required maintenance agreements with the purchase of an Endurance personal wind turbine from Van Wall Energy.

Van Wall Energy is a new division of Van Wall Group, the popular Iowa equipment manufacturer and the exclusive distributor of Endurance personal wind turbines in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

The Endurance E-3120 turbine produces up to 200,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) of energy a year and the smaller S-343 turbine produces up to 19,000 kwh annually.  Members interested in purchasing one of these turbines will receive the required 5-year maintenance agreement at no charge, saving $10,000 to $2,500, respectively on the maintenance agreements.

"That's a tremendous value to farmers and Iowans who are looking for ways to be more efficient and environmentally-friendly," said Craig Lang, president of IFBF.  "Farm Bureau's philosophy has always been to promote renewable energy and partner with those who can help the market flourish in Iowa so we can do more using fewer resources.  We're pleased to offer our members this new energy benefit that will help reduce their overall energy costs."

"Iowa is the best state for developing a renewable energy market, ranking second in wind energy production," said Don Van Houweling, president of Van Wall Group.  "We're pleased to partner with a group that has been on the forefront of that market. Our experience with farmers shows they are always innovating and looking for ways to increase efficiencies while reducing their carbon footprint.

Iowans know a wind turbine is a good investment because in these times of rising energy costs, it allows them to essentially 'lock in' their electricity costs for the future.  And, the timing is right because they can also increase their savings if they apply for the 30 percent tax credit, currently available from the federal government.  Alliant Energy also offers a cash-back reward up to $30,000 to many of their customers," said Van Houweling.

For more information on this new benefit, contact Iowa Farm Bureau on our toll-free member helpline (866) 598-3693 or visit www.iowafarmbureau.com.

-30 -