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Nov. 20, 2013 | 0 comments


Iowa land owners worry about proposed power line

A group of Iowa land owners are organizing to fight a proposed $2 billion electric transmission line that would provide a boost to wind power in the state.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the proposed 500-mile line that a subsidiary of Clean Line Energy Partners wants to build would stretch from O'Brien County in northwest Iowa to Morris, IL.

Ted and Kim Junker don't like the idea of the line crossing their farm in Grundy County. Kim Junker says the construction of towers for the line and maintenance could disrupt the farm and compact the soil.

Company officials say the transmission line would connect Iowa wind farms with communities in other states that want the electricity, and more wind projects would be possible.


Federal job brings former first lady back to Iowa

Former First Lady Christie Vilsack returned to Iowa as part of her new federal job promoting international education.

After failing in her bid to unseat Iowa Congressman Steve King last year, Vilsack has worked since March as a senior adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington.

Vilsack visited its main campus in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Nov. 20, to meet with students from Central America who are studying agricultural business under a USAID scholarship program. Kirkwood says the 37 students are part way through a two-year program, and Vilsack wants to see the progress and connections they have made.

A former teacher, Vilsack is the wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served as Iowa governor from 1999-2007.


Farm Bureau offers farm lesson grants to teachers

An Iowa Farm Bureau program designed to teach children about agriculture is opening the process for teachers to apply for grant money.

The Teacher Supplement Grant program was established in 2003 and this year will award $200 to teachers in language arts and science who develop classroom programs that help students learn about agriculture.

Farm Bureau has awarded nearly $100,000 to teachers in the last three years of the grant program.

The organization says with one of six Iowa jobs related, indirectly or directly, to agriculture, there's a great need to bring creative agriculture education to Iowa's elementary students to help them understand how farming is part of their everyday lives.

Teachers are encouraged to incorporate lessons of food safety, seed genetics, and environmental practices in their current curriculum.


State plans to test 70,000 private wells

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture plans to test 70,000 private wells in the state's farming regions to measure nitrogen that seeps into the ground after fertilizing.

The state says the level of pollution from tons of fertilizer that's applied each year across the southern two-thirds of the state is rising. A survey in 2011 found excessive pollution in 62 percent of the wells monitored by the state in central Minnesota.

The Star Tribune says that besides the well testing, the state hopes to persuade farmers to better control their use of fertilizer. That could include asking farmers not to fertilize in the fall when the risk to groundwater is greatest, or even taking land out of production.

Environmentalists don't think the plan is strong enough. Critics say it assumes landowners will voluntarily protect the water.


Suspect in Minnesota horse shootings released

A Minnesota man suspected in the shooting of two horses being boarded on his farm was released from jail with no charges filed.

The 30-year-old man was arrested Monday, Nov. 11, at his family's Scandia farm, where the bodies of the horses were dug up from a cornfield. He was released Wednesday.

The horses belonged to Gloria Fritz of St. Paul. Fritz said she was keeping the pedigreed Saddlebred mares at the farm temporarily.

Fritz says the farmer called her Sunday and told her the horses had been shot by deer hunters and that he'd buried them.

But Fritz says when she and sheriff's deputies went to the farm Sunday, there were no signs of blood or a fresh burial site.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the case remains open.


Minnesota firearms deer harvest down from 2012 so far

Windy weather and standing corn put a lid on the opening of Minnesota's firearms deer season.

The Department of Natural Resources says the harvest for the first three days was down eight percent from 2012. Hunters registered just over 77,000 deer from Saturday through Monday.

Big game program leader Leslie McInenly says it's not surprising. Last year's opening weekend weather was almost ideal and the corn harvest was nearly complete. But she says Saturday was marked by winds up to 30 mph and more hiding places in pockets of unharvested corn.

The deer harvest was down 19 percent in the northeast, four percent in the southeast and six percent for the rest of Minnesota.

The DNR still expects a final tally similar to 2012 when hunters killed about 185,000 deer.

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