DAVENPORT, IOWA (March 15, 2010) - Because minor water leaks account for more than one trillion gallons of water wasted each year in U.S. homes, EPA's WaterSense program has declared March 15 to 21, 2010 as "Fix a Leak Week" to remind Americans to check household plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.
"Leaks can account for an average of 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, or enough to fill a backyard swimming pool," said Randy Moore, president of Iowa American Water. "By raising awareness in our partnership with the EPA WaterSense program, water conservation not only saves our customers money, but it also helps to preserve the environment and meet future water needs."
To help consumers across the country save water, the WaterSense program promotes ways to identify and repair dripping faucets, running toilets, and leaky showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts can be installed by do-it-yourselfers and pay for themselves in no time.
Iowa American Water recommends the following tips to help save water lost by leaks:


  • Regularly check your toilet, faucets, and pipes for leaks. American Water offers leak detection kits, which are available by calling the American Water Customer Service Center at 1.866.641.2108 or in the Learning Center of the company's Web site, www.amwater.com. If you find a leak, have it fixed as soon as possible.
  • Reduce faucet leaks by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replace them, or, if necessary, replace the faucet with a WaterSense labeled model.
  • Leaky toilets are most often the result of a worn toilet flapper. Replacing the rubber flapper is a quick fix that could save a home up to 200 gallons of water per day. Ask your water utility for a toilet leak detection kit, which will help you identify leaking commodes.
  • For a leaky garden hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
  • Tighten connections on your showerheads if drips appear when the shower is off.
  • Check your garden and lawn irrigation system for leaks, or hire a certified WaterSense expert to check it for you.
If homeowners have to replace a plumbing fixture, EPA reminds them to look for the WaterSense label. WaterSense labeled toilets and faucets have been independently tested and certified to save water and perform as well as or better than standard models. WaterSense also partners with certified landscape irrigation auditors, designers, installers, and maintenance professionals with water-efficiency knowledge; see www.epa.gov/watersense to find a WaterSense irrigation partner in your area. For more information on Fix a Leak Week, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak.
WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to protect the future of our nation's water supply by promoting and enhancing the market for water-efficient products and services. WaterSense labeled products must achieve independent, third-party testing and certification to prove they meet EPA's criteria for efficiency and performance.

First of Five Workshops Features Discussion on Competitive Dynamics in the Seed Industry, Trends in Contracting, Transparency and Buyer Power

ANKENY, Iowa, March 12, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today held the first-ever joint public workshop on competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshop, led by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, featured panel discussions on a variety of topics important to America's farmers and ranchers, including competitive dynamics in the seed industry, trends in contracting, transparency and buyer power, and concluded with public testimony.

"In my travels across the country, I hear a consistent theme: producers are worried whether there is a future for them or their children in agriculture, and a viable market is an important factor in what that future looks like," said Vilsack. "These issues are difficult and complex, which is why this workshop today is so important and long overdue."

"Today's workshop provided the Department with an important opportunity to hear from a variety of perspectives and individuals about competition in the agriculture sector," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "We appreciate the importance of this industry to our economy and are committed to enforcing the antitrust laws effectively to ensure fair and open competition that protects both consumers and farmers."

Today's meeting was the first in a series of workshops that will be held over the next several months, the first joint Department of Justice/USDA workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue and foster learning, as well as to listen to and learn from people involved in agriculture. Additional information about the workshops can be found at http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm#overview.

A six-person panel of farmers presented their views on competition and regulatory issues. Other workshop panels examined the competitive dynamics of the seed industry; trends in contracting issues, marketplace transparency and buyer power; and agriculture enforcement and cooperation at the Federal and state levels. Following the panels officials received public testimony.

The workshop was held at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) and was attended by several key federal and state leaders, including Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, Congressman Leonard Boswell, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Antitrust Division Christine Varney, Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Transcripts from today's workshop will be available for review at a later date on the Antitrust Division's Web site. Individuals seeking more information on the workshops should contact agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - March 11, 2010 - Tomorrow the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) will begin a series of workshops to address competition and consolidation within agriculture. Part one of the series is being held in Ankeny, with future workshops hosted in cities around the country. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), the state's largest grassroots farm organization, encourages the agencies to allow market freedom, innovation and technological advances while protecting farmers from actions that restrict their access to competitive markets.
"The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation commends USDA and DOJ for exploring the competitive environment for today's farmers," says IFBF President Craig Lang. "Our members support strengthening enforcement activities to ensure that mergers andconsolidation from farm gate to food plate don't limit our access to seed, fertilizer, chemicals, markets and transportation. The purpose of monitoring and oversight is to enable fair, open and efficient markets."
"Our members also believe in a free market system and intellectual property rights protection, which help propel the kind of innovation and technological development that benefit farmers and consumers. For these reasons, this investigation and review should proceed in a way that minimizes market disruptions," says Lang.
"USDA and DOJ should also continue to recognize the necessity of farmer cooperatives, which are protected by the Capper-Volstead Act," says Lang. "Cooperatives and producer bargaining associations help put farmers on a more even footing with the large companies that buy their products. They empower farmers and should be allowed to be self-governing and self-regulating as long as they do not violate Capper-Volstead."


Braley has led two-year effort ensuring thousands of troops receive promised benefits

Washington, DC - Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) announced today that members of the Iowa National Guard have finally started receiving long-overdue payments they were promised for extended tours in Iraq. Braley has worked to ensure delivery of Respite Leave benefits for over two years.


"The news that Iowa's National Guard members are finally receiving the Respite Leave payments they earned is both exciting and long overdue," Braley said. "Hundreds of Iowa National Guard members bravely served our country and waited patiently to be compensated.  I've been working for over two years now to fix this problem, and I'm thrilled to announce today that these troops are finally being paid for their service."


Braley has been leading efforts to fix this back pay problem and ensure that thousands of troops nationwide receive proper compensation. His Guaranteed Benefits for Our Troops Act (HR 1222) was signed into law in October as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act and enables the Pentagon to release the promised benefits.


Under Braley's fix, hundreds of Iowa National Guard members will be provided benefits they were promised under the Department of Defense's Post-Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence (PDMRA) program, commonly known as "Respite Leave."  Due to a delay between the announcement of the PDMRA program by the Department of Defense and the implementation of the program by the individual services, thousands of Army National Guard troops across the country did not receive proper Respite Leave compensation.  The majority of affected troops nationwide are expected to be paid by March 19, 2010.


Braley first introduced the Guaranteed Benefits for Our Troops Act in July 2008.  It allows the Pentagon to retroactively grant up to $200 per day to affected troops.


DES MOINES, IA (03/09/2010)(readMedia)-- April 15 is right around the corner! When you file your Iowa state income tax return, don't forget to support the Iowa State Fair by participating in the Corndog Tax Checkoff and show your love for the Fair. From funnel cakes, to ferris wheels, food on a stick and free entertainment, premier livestock events, expansive art exhibits and the country's largest state fair food department, the Iowa State Fair has something for everyone!

Look for the State Fairgrounds Renovation Checkoff on line 58b of Iowa Tax Form 1040 or on line 14 of Iowa Tax Form 1040A and check off $1 (or more!) to help preserve the historic Iowa State Fairgrounds. Your gift is either deducted from your refund or added to the amount due. Contributions to the Corndog Checkoff are fully tax-deductible.

The Corndog Checkoff is a simple way to support your Iowa State Fair! Every dollar donated to the Checkoff is directly allocated to capital improvements. The Corndog Checkoff has raised over $1.5 million, and has supplemented restoration projects from the Grandstand to Ye Old Mill. In addition, funds generated by the Checkoff have helped improve the campgrounds, parking areas, sidewalks and restrooms.

The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Since its inception in 1993, the Foundation has generated over $80 million for renovations and improvements to the Iowa State Fairgrounds. For more information on the Corndog Tax Checkoff, please contact the Blue Ribbon Foundation at (800) 450-3732 or email bluerf@blueribbonfoundation.org.


Des Moines, Iowa (March 8, 2010) - In the first two months of the Iowa Farmers Feed US (www.FarmersFeedUS.org) sweepstakes, Iowa consumers have taken advantage of the chance to win free groceries for a year, while also meeting the hard-working men and women who raise their food. In fact, since the promotion launched on Jan. 11, Iowa consumers have registered more than 97,000 times for a chance to win one of two grand prizes, while meeting an Iowa farmer each time.

And beginning March 8, Iowa Farmers Feed US is offering three ways for consumers to help feed their Iowa neighbors. Through a partnership with Iowa's six food banks, including Food Bank of Iowa, Food Bank of Southern Iowa, HACAP, Food Bank for the Heartland, Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Riverbend Food Bank, Midwest Dairy Association will donate $1 to the organizations for each new "fan" of the Iowa Farmers Feed US Facebook page (www.facebook.com/iafarmersfeedus) or "follower" via Twitter (www.twitter.com/iafarmersfeedus). Further, the donation promotion also extends to the Midwest Dairy Association's website (www.midwestdairy.com), where each click received from their homepage to the Iowa Farmers Feed US link will add another $1 to the donation. The donation drive will run until Wednesday, March 31, or until a combination of 30,000 new fans, followers, and website clicks are reached, adding to a $30,000 donation that was made in February.
In this final month of the sweepstakes, which runs through April 10, Iowa residents can continue to register for a chance to win one of two grand prizes of free groceries for a year*, courtesy of Iowa's farmers. Upon visiting the site, consumers can choose to register with each of five Iowa farmers daily and take a video tour of their farms. Each video explains how they produce safe, nutritious and affordable food for Iowa consumers.

"We're really pleased with the consumer response. Their support shows that they understand the importance of farmers in Iowa," said Jim Brown, a Churdan soybean farmer featured on the Web site. "And as Iowa farmers, we're proud to showcase our farms, sharing how we raise the food that Iowa consumers eat, while also introducing them to our families." Featured farmers include :
  • · Jim Brown, soybean farmer, Churdan
  • · Pam Johnson, corn farmer, Floyd
  • · Stephanie Dykshorn, dairy cattle farmer, Ireton
  • · Matt Schuiteman, hog farmer, Sioux Center
  • · Tim Kaldenberg, beef cattle farmer, Albia

Over the course of the 90-day campaign, consumers throughout the state will also see and hear from these farmers as they are featured in advertising, while also interacting with these and other Iowa farmers on their blogs and Facebook pages. See www.facebook.com/iafarmersfeedus and www.twitter.com/iafarmersfeedus for more information.

Supporting Iowa agriculture groups include Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Midwest Dairy Association, and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.
*Based on Food Marketing Institute figures, a $5,000 value.

The Center for Food Integrity is a not-for-profit corporation established to build consumer trust and confidence in the contemporary U.S. food system. Our members, who represent every segment of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and addressing important issues among all food system stakeholders. The Center does not lobby or advocate for individual food companies or brands. For more information, visit www.foodintegrity.org.

Washington, DC - Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) announced today Iowans can receive free tax filing services from the Internal Revenue Service. All taxpayers making less than $57,000 can visit http://braley.house.gov and use the IRS Free File Program link to complete their taxes.

"I'm happy to provide this service to my constituents," Braley said. "This program is a fast, free and safe way to complete federal taxes this season, and I encourage all who are eligible to take advantage of this opportunity. As our economy recovers, programs like this are crucial to providing middle class families with the financial assistance they need."

Free File is safe, secure and provides a step-by-step guide to filing federal tax returns. Additionally, those who use Free File with direct deposit may receive refunds in as little as 10 days.

To learn more about this service and to see a list of tax service centers in the First District, please visit http://braley.house.gov and click on the Free File link on the homepage.

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OMAHA, Neb. -  Mar. 5, 2010:   Gordmans, Inc., an Omaha-based apparel and home fashions retailer, raised $105,000 during a three-week campaign to support American Red Cross relief efforts for victims of the Haitian earthquake disaster.

"Gordmans initiated this campaign to allow our guests and associates to easily make a contribution to aid the victims of this unprecedented tragedy," said Jeff Gordman, president and CEO. "Our guests and associates have traditionally been very generous in giving back to the communities in which they live and work through their strong support of the many fundraisers conducted by our Company over the past several years."

Gordmans guests purchased paper "Helping Hands" at the checkouts of each of the 66 stores throughout its 16 state trade area for $1 each. Associates made personal contributions to the campaign via payroll deduction, cash or check, and Gordmans also made a contribution.  All monies collected were donated to the American Red Cross Haitian relief effort.

Iowans encouraged to check to see if they have unclaimed property waiting for them

DES MOINES, IA (03/04/2010)(readMedia)-- According to State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald, Iowans who are yearning to see something green after the long winter do not have to wait until St. Patrick's Day or for spring weather to roll around. A visit to the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website at www.greatiowatreasurehunt.com might just add some green in the form of unclaimed property to their wallets.

Treasurer Fitzgerald encourages everyone to visit the website even if they have searched for their names in the past. "We are consistently updating the list of those who have unclaimed property. This year you may find your wallet growing with green before the trees and grass have a chance to catch up," stated Fitzgerald. "In today's economy every little bit helps."

The Great Iowa Treasure Hunt program has returned over $100 million in unclaimed property to more than 280,000 individuals since Fitzgerald started it in 1983. Unclaimed property refers to money and other assets held by financial institutions or companies that have lost contact with the property's owner for a specific period of time. State law requires these institutions and companies to annually report and deliver unclaimed property to the State Treasurer's Office, where it is held until the owner or heir of the property is found. Common forms of unclaimed property include : savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed checks, life insurance policies, utility security deposits, and safe deposit box contents.

All Iowans are encouraged to visit www.greatiowatreasurehunt.com and check to see if they have unclaimed property waiting for them. Individuals may also send an email to foundit@iowa.gov. For those who prefer corresponding by mail, please write to State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald, Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, Lucas State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319. Please make sure to provide current name, previous names and addresses.

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that applications are being accepted to provide affordable rental housing to rural residents through the Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program.

"The Obama Administration is committed to providing improved economic opportunities to the residents of rural America, and an important factor is clean, safe, affordable housing," said Vilsack.  "This program helps finance the construction, acquisition and rehabilitation of affordable multi-family rental housing for rural residents and I encourage eligible parties to apply for these funds."

Through the Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program, USDA Rural Development provides loan guarantees for private lenders and public agencies. Funds are not provided to individual renters. Up to $129 million is available for the program for Fiscal Year 2010.

In Fiscal Year 2009 USDA guaranteed loans to buy, build, or renovate more than 4,200 affordable rural rental housing units.  For application information see the Notice of Funding Availability which can be found in the February 26, 2010 Federal Register:  www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/a100226c.html#Rural%20Housing%20Service.  Funding for this program is not provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

USDA Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $130 billion in loans and loan guarantees.