Ag + Environment

Bills look to expand farm-to-school program with private, federal funds

BY: - March 9, 2021

The state would set up a special fund to help schools buy local food for their cafeterias under a bill that lawmakers advanced Tuesday. The legislation, Senate File 359 and House File 482, do not seek a state appropriation. The legislation is meant to build on a successful experiment with $500,000 in CARES Act money […]

Biden reinstates bird protections gutted under Trump

BY: - March 8, 2021

The Interior Department on Monday revoked a Trump administration policy that would have undercut a century-old law protecting migratory birds. The move strengthens federal regulators’ authority to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a 1918 law that allows the government to prosecute polluters whose actions are responsible for the deaths of about 1,100 protected bird […]

Post-USDA, Northey eyes consulting on climate, water quality, conservation

BY: - March 8, 2021

Former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey’s new career could involve consulting on some of the nation’s most pressing issues: climate change, water quality, and conservation. In January, Northey wrapped up his Trump-era stint as an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After he was confirmed by the Senate nearly six months after his nomination, […]


The science behind frozen wind turbines – and how to keep them spinning through the winter

BY: - March 7, 2021

Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather. Even light icing can produce enough surface roughness on wind turbine blades to reduce […]

Experts: Iowa’s drought likely to last through crop season

BY: - March 5, 2021

Iowa’s drought is likely to last at least through the early part of the crop season, a panel of experts said this week. “It is very possible that we will have some ongoing drought issues throughout the year,” said Dennis Todey, director of the Midwest Climate Hub at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Spring rains […]

Lawmakers uncork criticism of bottle bill changes, advance proposals anyway

BY: - March 4, 2021

Separate legislative bills that would change Iowa’s 42-year-old beverage container deposit law advanced Thursday after lawmakers said the fight is far from over.  Senate File 565 would require an accounting of unredeemed container deposits. House Study Bill 252 would allow retailers to decline to take bottles and can returns if there is a redemption center […]

Senate panel advances Deb Haaland’s historic nomination to lead Interior Department

BY: - March 4, 2021

WASHINGTON — Deb Haaland has moved a step closer to becoming the first Native American to serve as a federal Cabinet secretary, with a Senate committee on Thursday advancing her nomination to lead the Department of the Interior. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources voted 11-9 to send her nomination to a vote by the […]

Lawmakers: Governor’s biofuels bill needs a pit stop

BY: - March 3, 2021

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ plan to boost the Iowa biofuels industry by setting new requirements appears to be running on fumes.  Reynolds’ proposed biofuels standards passed the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday, but not before lawmakers from both parties suggested the bill should not be debated on the Senate floor in its current form.  Agriculture groups […]

Grassley plans to seek derecho aid through pandemic bill

BY: - March 3, 2021

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he plans to file an amendment to the latest pandemic relief bill to provide aid to farms damaged by August derecho storm.  Grassley said assistance for farmers whose crops were damaged by the hurricane-force winds in the Midwest, including Iowa, at one point was added to the $1.9 trillion […]

Bill would add ‘soil health’ to goals of state conservation programs

BY: - March 3, 2021

A bill that would add “soil health” as a goal of state-backed conservation projects advanced in the Legislature Wednesday. House File 646 would add the federal definition of “soil health” to the state’s code language guiding the work of soil conservation districts. The districts offer cost-share grants for improvements on farms.  The legislation, before an […]

Critics: Northeast Iowa cattle operation threatens trout streams

BY: - March 1, 2021

Proposed manure applications from a Monona-area cattle operation would threaten Bloody Run Creek and other trout streams in the area, critics said Monday. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources held a public meeting on Supreme Beef’s proposed manure management plan.  A string of speakers accused the company of making errors in its calculations that would […]

Bill would provide an extra $3 million a year for state parks projects

BY: - March 1, 2021

A revived plan to spend $3 million a year on state park improvements cleared a legislative subcommittee Monday.  House File 647, introduced by Rep. Brent Siegrist, R-Council Bluffs, is modeled after 1997 legislation that provided an annual appropriation of $3 million from gambling revenues and later from tobacco settlement funds. Along the way, the Restore […]