Ag Briefs

Manure from Iowa dairy farm blamed for deaths of 60K fish

NEW VIENNA, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are blaming a manure runoff from a dairy farm for killing about 60,000 fish in eastern Iowa.

The farm is situated about 3 miles east of New Vienna. The fish kill was reported Oct. 9 after fish carcasses were spotted in two creeks downstream in Dyersville.

The Iowa Natural Resources Department has issued a notice of violation to the owner, John Hoefler, and is expected to seek restitution for the fish. Among the dead were minnows, white suckers and creek chubs.

Big Island authorities plan crackdown on agricultural theft

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — Authorities on the Big Island are cracking down on agricultural theft by attempting to eliminate the market for stolen produce.

West Hawaii Today reported that in meeting with agricultural officials and farmer on Friday, Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth unveiled a plan to increase market monitoring and utilize the law-required paper trail in an effort to curb the theft.

Roth says that his goal is not to make arrests but “to educate people so we don’t have a market for stolen goods.”

The first step of this effort was kicked off in September when the county government hired a full-time agricultural investigator. The investigator will be tasked with watching farmers markets and roadside stands where the stolen commodities are often sold.

10 agriculture projects in Illinois to receive $550,000

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Ten agriculture-related projects that are looking for way to expand the availability of fresh, locally-grown produce in Illinois will be sharing $550,000.

In a news release, the Illinois Department of Agriculture will receive the money through the most recent federal Specialty Crop Grant Program.

The grants will go to programs that will study such issues as the best produce washing and handling techniques for farmers and look to give the poor greater access to fresh produce.

Illinois Agriculture Director Raymond Poe said it is important to support the state’s specialty crop industry — which includes fruits, vegetables, nursery crops, tree nuts, horticulture and dried fruits. He adds it’s important to make these crops more available throughout the state.

Nebraska sees rising popularity in dry beans

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska is expected to have its biggest crop of dry edible beans in more than 25 years.

The Omaha World-Herald reported that Nebraska is best known for huge quantities of corn and beef. But the state is also becoming a top producer of bean varieties that include pinto beans and the white-colored great northern bean.

A report this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that low corn prices and good growing conditions mean farmers can expect to see record yields for beans. The report stated that farmers in areas where beans grow well planted about 40 percent more acres this year than last.

That adds up to an expected 411 million pounds of beans for Nebraska, which would make it the country’s second-biggest bean producer this year behind North Dakota.

Nebraska’s dry bean production is concentrated in the Panhandle, where the arid climate is ideal for beans, said Gary Stone, Extension educator for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Prices for the beans are right around a farmer’s cost to grow them, said Jessica Groskopf, Extension educator at the university. She said farmers will generally see a profit for any crop they sold in advance at planting time, but not much profit for the part of their crop they’d sell now.

“It still looks a little better than corn,” said Paul Pieper, a bean grower north of Mitchell.

Experts said the average U.S. resident consumes about only seven pounds of dry beans a year, compared to about 58 pounds of beef.

The U.S. Dry Bean Councils said growing interest in ethnic foods and in plant-based foods may boost dry bean consumption.

“Unfortunately, beans aren’t sexy,” Groskopf said. “We’re constantly looking for that new chance to find those consumers who want our product.”