# Agriculture



Little of USDA’s conservation spending went to "climate-smart" agriculture

Anne Schechinger is Senior Analyst of Economics for the Environmental Working Group. This report first appeared on the Environmental Working Group’s website.

Farmers received almost $7.4 billion in payments from two of the largest federal agricultural conservation programs between 2017 and 2020, but only a small proportion of these payments went to practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming. 

This finding comes from the Environmental Working Group’s newest update to its Conservation Database, which provides 2017–2020 payment data for five of the largest Agriculture Department farm conservation programs.

Continue Reading...

Grassley, Hinson bash student loan relief, but not other government handouts

Like their counterparts across the country, top Iowa Republicans howled on August 24 when President Joe Biden rolled out a three-pronged student loan relief program.

Speaking at a town hall meeting, Senator Chuck Grassley asserted that it’s “unfair” to forgive some student loans but not help other people who struggle to repay their obligations.

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson denounced the plan as a “handout to the wealthy and a total slap in the face” to working people who didn’t go to college or already paid off their student loans.

The outrage over student debt relief was striking, since Grassley and Hinson have not objected to some other federal government handouts, which benefited their own families.

Continue Reading...

Monarchs merit royal care

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

Who doesn’t love butterflies, especially monarch butterflies?

Let me share several verbal bouquets I encountered in reading articles about monarchs. “Showy looks.” “Extraordinary migration.” “One of the natural world’s wonders,” and, “one of the continent’s most beloved insects.” Unfortunately, I also came across some very troubling terms, like “endangered,” “vulnerable populations,” “declining precipitously” and “teeter(ing) on the edge of collapse.” Suffice to say, it all captured my attention.

Monarchs have been in the news a great deal lately. Appropriately so.

Continue Reading...

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A thriving farm prairie strip

Early this month, Lee Tesdell invited me to the Prairie Strips Field Day he hosted at his family’s century farm in northern Polk County. I’ve visited many prairie restorations in progress, but this was my first encounter with a prairie strip in the middle of rowcrops.

Lee has long employed conservation practices on his farm and is five years into his prairie strip project. Every year, he finds new native plants in the corridor.

Continue Reading...

Iowa Supreme Court's unfair message: "Take one for the team"

Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.

In 1972, Gordon Garrison purchased 300 acres of farmland in Emmet County, a rectangle near the Minnesota border one county to the east of the Iowa Great Lakes. 

The Iowa State University agricultural engineering graduate began raising sheep and crops. He also set about working to restore the “prairie pothole” ecology of shallow wetlands that was common in northwestern Iowa when white settlers began arriving 175 years ago. 

Garrison built a house on his land in 1999. He still lives there, although his quality of life has taken a troubling turn since he put down roots there.  

Life for Garrison and his neighbors changed significantly in December 2015 when New Fashion Pork LLP built a CAFO, or a confined animal feeding operation, uphill from and adjacent to Garrison’s property. The confinement building — which the state allows to house 4,400 to 8,800 hogs, depending on their size — is about a half mile from Garrison’s property. 

Continue Reading...
View More...