Saturday, September 30, 2006

NIMBYs in Iowa

I've been following the debate in Dickinson County over the siting of a good sized hog confinement about 4 miles west of West Okoboji Lake. Like anything, when you build something "raw" too close to a group of gentrified people, they are outraged, even while contributing indirectly to the offender's existence. They are, in essence, NIMBYs, or Not In My BackYard.

Here are a few ways to tell if you or your loved one is a NIMBY:
  1. You are opposed to large scale livestock operations, but you buy your meats at WalMart because they are the lowest cost.
  2. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, so you purchase a hybrid...SUV. This, in turn, uses more energy to build and to dispose of the batteries when its life is over, and your overall mileage doesn't improve considerably.
  3. You are opposed to GMO (genetically modified organism) corn and soybeans, but you don't care about the farmer having to use more toxic insecticides if GMO corn is banned.
  4. You request that your local grocer (again, WalMart) stock organic foods, but only if they are microwavable and come in disposable, sealed containers.
  5. You drive 100 miles each way to see Al Gore's "The Inconvenient Truth".
  6. You complain about nitrogen levels in rivers and write letters to the DM Register, but think nothing about the "Weed N Feed" you applied to your lawn.
  7. You're against a new packing plant coming to town because of the "rif-raf" it will draw, but you wouldn't dare check the IDs of the landscapers you've hired.
  8. You decry big pickup trucks as gas guzzlers, but think nothing of driving across town for a chocolate latte at Starbucks.

As you can see, NIMBYism and environmental hypocrisy are very close in nature.

To read more from the Iowa NIMBY point of view, click here, here, and here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A survey of farm trucks

Here is a brief overview of some of the farm pickup trucks found here in The South of Iowa:
  1. The Beater - Rusty, dented, and loud, this truck is used extensively off road to chase cattle, except for the occasional trip to the coop for baler twine or barb wire. The Beater will often be modified with a bale stabber on the back, a grill guard, and sometimes, weeds growing up in the bed. An example would be a 1976 Ford F250 4x4 with unknown miles (odometer stopped at 65,534 in 1983).
  2. The Cowboy Wannabe Rig - Later model 1 ton dually with lots of chrome. Preferably a Dodge with a Cummins engine. Usually hitched to a cattle or horse trailer. Sometimes has a semen cooler in the box.
  3. The Slow Old Man Truck - Later model 2wd Chevrolet 1/2 ton. 6 cylinder, automatic transmission. Bed topper is a must, as are running boards. Cannot exceed 45 mph. Handicap hanger on rear view mirror seen often.
  4. The Big Time Operator (BTO) Truck - Similar to the Cowboy Wannabe Rig, but will be 4wd, crew cab (to haul his workers around), and leather seats. Often seen parked in front of the bank, never in the field.
  5. The Young Buck Truck - Jacked up late model Ford F150 4x4 (they're cheaper, you know), straight pipes out the back, window stickers of Calvin peeing on Chevys, Dodges, or Case IH, or "Orange County Choppers". Extra points for chrome "foxy lady" mudflaps.
  6. The Hurried Farmer Truck - Late model Dodge 1 ton 4x4 with a flatbed on the back, automated cattle feeder behind the cab, notes and booklets on the dash, and the front license plate on upside down.

Like most stereotypes, these are based somewhat on reality. I could probably give you real life examples of all of these trucks.

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jericho TV show and nuclear war

I finally got to catch the new CBS show "Jericho" last night. It was the 2nd episode of the season, but I caught on to what's happening.

Basically, a guy comes back to visit his family in Jericho, KS and becomes a bit of a hero when nuclear explosions are discovered in the horizon and the town is lost to the outside world. It combines the genre of post-apocalyptic with real-world issues. I like how there is a suspense about what really happened to the United States; is there a war going on, and if so, who is involved? Did we attack first or did "they"? It keeps you guessing.

I remember the first big nuclear scare TV movie, "The Day After", back in 1983. Man, did it scare the core of that 5th grader I was back then. I was certain we were all going to die, that the Soviets were going to fly right over The South of Iowa with their Bear bombers and start dropping big ones. I probably should have heeded the warning presented before the explosions took place, but being a big 11 year old, I thought I could handle it. Ha. I was cowering like a little boy (which I was).

Being a bit of a geography and history buff, I was playing with Google Earth one day and found a set of data points of abandoned Minutemen missile sites. Curiously, I found that they surrounded Whiteman AFB in Knob Knoster, MO, and that even a few of them were nearby farms of some mapping clients of mine. On a recent trip to WC MO, where my clients are, I stopped at one of the abandoned Minutemen silos, just off the road. The gate was open, so I drove in. Not much to see; just a large depression in the ground, surrounded by a fence, probably an acre or two in size. Twenty years ago, however, I probably would have stopped by armed guards.

So where's this rant leading to? I think we have this love-hate relationship with nuclear weapons. We hate them because of the destruction and death they can cause, but we're somewhat allured by them because of their power, their ability to cause the death and destruction, and the "what if's" after they are used. What will society look like, if it exists at all? Who will have attacked who? What cities survived, and which ones don't exist anymore? Will there be cannibalistic mutants with x-ray vision wandering the streets? The whole thought process is like an itch; you shouldn't scratch it, but it feels kind of good/weird when you do.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Public school financing

I went to school and graduated from Mormon Trail Community School District (no I'm not Mormon, by the way). It is the same school district in which we currently reside. Like all other public school districts in Iowa, a fair amount of its operating funds come from a portion of property taxes. Here, about 45% of property taxes go to the school district.

While we only own the acreage we live on, we rent nearly 1000 acres, and that rent contributes to the payment of taxes on probably 1600 acres (non-tillable acres, etc). Using figures from here, I found that my landlords and myself pay $23,476/year in property taxes. 45% of this is $10,564.

Our two children, before they are even in school, are essentially paying a tuition of $5282 each, spread between the two school districts we farm in. Now, someone who resides in town in an older house probably pays around $500/year in taxes, or $225 going to the school. Their two kids essentially pay $112.50 for tuition, or about 47 times less than my kids.

Now, in any other industry, if a person was charged 47 times more for a service than another, but received the exact service, there would be complaints of price gouging. I bet Barbara Streisand would sing about the injustice. But when it comes to using property taxes to educate children, its more likely she'd be singing "Stick It To The Man!"

I suppose if we lived in a city, and everyone paid more or less similar property taxes for their houses, it might be more equitable. But we who make a living off the usage of real estate are severely burdened to educate other people's children, and yet have little to no recourse.

Of course, it makes sense for me to pay taxes for roads, fire protection, and law enforcement, because I (or my landlords) have more real estate to be protected and traveled to than, say, a house in town. But it makes no sense whatsoever to tax property to pay for education. Because someone owns 160 acres and needs a good road to it, he/she contributes taxes to build and maintain a road. However, because they own that 160, there is no direct linkage to a burden to pay for public education.

The system of taxing real estate to generate revenue for public schools is unfair and antiquated. We need a system that does not heap the burden of revenue creation on property owners, but on the users of the public system itself, the students and their parents. This will create a more equitable system to finance public schools.

Lineville's town council gets tough

In the latest installation of the town of Lineville's attempt to clean up junk vehicles, it appears that they're making some progress.

Mayor Jack Shields reported that residents receiving citations for violating the city’s junk vehicle ordinance had court appearances recently. The case against Jill Allpress was dismissed because she had moved her vehicles. John Kirsch received an extension because he is building a containment wall around his property. However, Shields said he was told he must move the trailers inside that contained area. Leeland Saxton never showed up, according to Shields. Monte Dilliner was fined $200 with $100 of that suspended on the grounds that he have his property cleaned up by Sept. 28. According to Shields, Dilliner had done some cleaning. “Would you say we’re making progress?” asked Snow. “I’d say, yes, we’re making some progress,” said Shields. “It’s been quite a while coming, but at least we’re making progress.” The morning of the court appearances, Clerk Brandy Shriver borrowed a digital camera and took pictures of each of the locations.

Fined $200 for using a public street for your own private auto demolition business? What a deal! That's cheaper than rent in a lot of places, and if the city gives you that much leniency for that long, you could have a thriving business by then.

In further news...
Last month, Snow was absent but sent copies of other cities’ ordinance that name certain dog breeds vicious. “Can we name out breeds you can ban?” he asked. “I hate to have to deem a dog vicious after it bites some kid’s face off. You don’t think about it until you get on in your backyard and have to worry about your kids playing out back.” Shields pointed out that his daughter was once bitten badly by a cur dog. Council members agreed that any breed of dog can be vicious.

Cur? The last time I heard that word was in the movie Tombstone, when Wyatt Earp calls down hell on one of the cowboys.

Any dog can be vicious? Not sure if a toy dachshund or a chihuahua would be included in this...

Anyway, that's all for now from our border town friends.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Winners on the Web, Vol 1, Issue 2

Our first winner this week is Lisa. Don't expect Lisa to pick up the bill when you go on a date, as she's landed herself in the Polk Co Pokey with a $43,404 bond for non-support.

Our next winner is Charlene. She could be a real contender for Miss Hawkeye Hoosegow Honey. Charlene is charged with not only 1st degree but 2nd degree theft, child endangerment, probation violation, and driving while barred.

Our last winner is Cynthia. She has an appropriate last name that rhymes with "cattle", as she in the pokey for Assault domestic abuse with injury. What a sweetheart.

Of course, all included are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Harvest is upon us...

The South of Iowa may not be updated as often as it has been earlier this month. Harvest is upon us here. We're starting on some corn at one farm first, then switching to soybeans, then back to corn after soybeans. So far we've done 21 acres. Average yield is 190 bu/ac, which is great.

Yo, check out my fly ride.

My HS math teacher would refer to something like this as a "Chick-Pig". Not quite a chicken, not quite a pig. In this case, we already had the cornhead and bought an adapter to make it fit the IH 1460 combine. Works quite well together. That's an Iowa State flag hanging off the side of the cab, by the way.

Culver requires index cards to answer questions

On Saturday, September 23, the state's first ever Democratic Rural Summit will be held in Carroll. Along with many Democratic contenders, our buddy Sweaty Chetty will give lay down some dope lines on the donkey crowd.

The South of Iowa has been informed by a trusted source that Chet will actually answer questions at this venue. That's right, questions from the audience will be answered!

However, those asking requesting a response from the C-Man must submit their questions ahead of time on index cards. I suppose this is to ensure that proper questions are asked, ones that wouldn't stump Chet. The following questions are already ruled out:

1) Why does blue and yellow make green?
2) Do monkeys worry if they are ugly?
3) Why are manhole covers round?

Chet not stupid. Chet smart.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Big Pig gets eaten up

After hearing about it over coffee and then reading it here, our neighbors to the south in the North of Missouri, Premium Standard Farms, has been bought out by Smithfield Foods. PSF, or as we call them in The South of Iowa, "BIG PIG," is the #2 hog producer in the nation. Smithfield is #1. Put them together, and well, you've got an even bigger pig.

So, how does this affect us in Iowa? Well, for one thing, it shows that the hog industry continues to consolidate until Smithfield and a few wannabes are the only owners of pigs. If you want to get into hogs as a farmer, you raise them for someone else; you won't own them. At this point, they can dictate to you the terms by which you will work for them (using a half-million dollar facility that you own, by the way). You're not longer a farmer but a serf.

I'll say this, however; PSF has provided a good market locally for our corn. Princeton, the headquarters and the location of a feedmill, is about 35 miles away, so it's pretty easy to take multiple loads down in a day. The workers are a bunch of good ol' boys who spend their off hours drinking beer and shooting deer.

I'm a bit concerned what the corn market will do once Smithfield takes over. Will they rail it in from further away? Will they no longer need our local corn? We'll see...

A few years ago National ByProducts, the company that picks up dead animals and processes them into all sorts of wonderful..., well, byproducts, informed the farmers of The South of Iowa (south of Hwy 34) that they would no longer venture into our area to pick up a dead cow, horse, or pig. Wasn't profitable enough, they said. However, they had no problem running down to PSF to pick up a load of dead pigs. Big Pig even built a special "carcass cooler" that would keep the bodies cool until the truck arrived. The truck would back under this cooler, and the dead pigs would drop right in. Once in a while a National driver needed to wet his whistle and would stop at our local Casey's store with a load of dead pigs headed back to Des Moines. I joked with my Dad that if he ever lost a cow he could just drop it off at Casey's for NatByProd to pick up for him. He never took me up on the idea, however.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Update on attack ad on Swaim

In a previous post, I wrote about a nasty attack flyer from the Republican Party of Iowa against Kurt Swaim, District 94 state representative, and our rep here in The South of Iowa.

OK, I'm a few days late on this, but it appears that Kevin Wiskus, his Republican opponent, renounced his party and became an independent because of the tactless flyer. Furthermore, he issued a personal apology to Swaim

Kevin Wiskus, you are a class act. Both you and Swaim are running great campaigns, and distancing yourself from the Republican Party may be a costly move (loosing financial support), but it's the right thing to do. We need more people like you and Kurt in the Statehouse.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fuel mileage...with a bale mover

I found this post on a popular agricultural discussion board the other day. Long story short; a hay producer in Nevada bought a bale mover (pictured) and drove it back to the farm. It was an 8 hour drive, going 55 mph the entire time, running the (diesel?) engine at 2750 RPM. As you can see, this rig has NO aerodynamic efficiency whatsoever.

His fuel mileage? 15 miles per gallon!

Now, if a bale mover can get 15 MPG at full RPM, why the heck can't Detroit put out cars and trucks that do better than this? Emissions controls are probably a big issue, as the bale mover is an off-road application, and therefore not fully subject to emissions controls (although they might have Tier III controls in the future, the same as new semi trucks today).

For those of you not familiar with bale movers, they are specialized machines that will pick up the small square bales our grandfathers and fathers put up (and caused our fathers to leave the farm for less strenuous work, like operating jackhammers), stack them, and then transport the stacked bales to a shed or edge of the field. Not many are used in Iowa, as we prefer the round bales (invented by an Iowa State grad student, no less!), and the West Coast horse and export market prefers small square bales.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fun with statistics - Iowa Schools 2005-2006

Here are some interesting statistics I compiled from data available here.

School with the most boys per girl: United, between Boone and Ames, with 3.98 boys/girl Fortunately, the school only goes to 6th grade. Morning Sun in SE Iowa has the largest ratio for K-12 schools at 1.81. Prom is going to suck for a while, guys.

School with the most girls per boy: Diagonal, with 1.29 girls per boy.

Overall, schools in the state of Iowa have a 1.06 Male/Female ratio; for every 100 girls, there are 106 boys. Do you think that would lead to some frustrated young men?

Smallest K-12 school district: Lineville-Clio, with 83. According to the data, there was ONE 4th grader in 2005-2006. The biggest class was the freshman class with 11. Diagonal is the 2nd smallest K-12 school, with 94 students. Both are in The South of Iowa.

Largest K-12 school district: Des Moines, 32,068

School with largest % in Talented And Gifted program (TAG): Clinton, with 55.2%
"Yes, you're talented and gifted, just like everyone else."

Most "diverse" school: Storm Lake, with 39.1% white, 3.5% black, 10.7% Asian, 46.6% Hispanic. Columbus, West Liberty, Perry, Denison, and Marshalltown have similar numbers. These schools also have the highest %'s of Immigrant and Migrant students. Hmmm, wonder why? Could this be why?

Another thought about local control and "good neighbors"

As the debate continues about what the concept of local control for livestock feeding operations, the merits and the detriments of such regulations, and the spin/hyperbola on both sides, I thought I'd take another view at this issue, and maybe come up with another solution.

Basically, as Iowa law stands, there are certian regulations, such as setbacks, distance from other property owners, manure containment facilities, etc that must be abided by to site a large livestock operation. These rules are part of the "master matrix", where county officials get to express their opinion, but do not actually control the siting of the operation. The final authority lies with the DNR and the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, and recently, DNR czar Jeff Vonk. The EPC granted the power to Vonk until the next legislative session to permit/deny operations even though the Legislature denied this ability during the last session.

Now, a positive thing that is going on is called the Good Neighbor Award, sponsored by the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and WHO radio. Neighbors are encouraged to send in letters to IDALS explaining why their livestock producing neighbors are good for the community, environment, and their livestock. A 2nd cousin of mine and her husband won the award in 2003, and I personally know at least one more winner, both of which reside in The South of Iowa.

And, they are good neighbors, to be sure. My cousin's operation is a modest sized cattle feeding operation, run by members of the family. They participate in the community, their lots are not mud pits that drain into creeks, and the cattle look content. You can't smell anything when you drive by their place.

Why can't we hold up these livestock operations and say, "These are the standards to which the rest of you should follow?" Shouldn't we see what these operations are doing and establish their standards for the rest of the state, or at least use them as guidelines?

If we did this, I think the concept of local control (at least how it's being thrown around now) would go away. It would no longer be needed, because livestock operations acting like good neighbors would not require any regulation by board of supervisors in each county. People dealing directly with each other is a better way to solve problems than holding activist meetings, destroying personal property, calling in Robert Kennedy, and saying hog farmers are worse than Osama bin Laden.

As I've written before, if you are going to be a good neighbor to me, it means you won't attempt to take away my property rights, value, and enjoyment. If you're going to be a bad neighbor, at least compensate me for taking these values away from my property, or insure against it happening. Maybe we say that facilities at or above the current thresholds (requiring DNR approval and waste permits) are required to meet the specifications of a "good neighbor". If they cannot, then they might be assessed annual payments to neighbors or an insurance plan, depending upon their distance from the operation, and/or payments for environmental remediation/insurance. It would provide an incentive for operations to do things right the first time around, rather than be dragged kicking and screaming to the table.

Giving control to each board of supervisors where livestock facilities should be cited is not going to solve the problem. While I do like local decision making, I think it blurs the main issue. Supervisors can choose to do nothing, or they can restrict all livestock down to your pet goat. Giving them power does not necessarily fix the issue.

And while we're at it, let's drop the rhetoric against those who want to be successful. I think this is one problem ICCI has; they don't want anyone to be successful, but rather equally miserable. Sort of like socialism. ICCI might say they are doing their crusading for the family farmer, the community, and the environment, but really, they are envious and jealous that other people are doing better than them. It's human nature to do so. Stop trying to institutionalize this "social justice" crap; the more time you spend whining the more you're wasting the precious resources God has given you.

Best use of Millwaukee's Best Light beer...ever!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

CSIF pulling a Clinton

No, no one named Monica is involved, but it appears that the Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers, a tool of the Farm Bureau, Pork Producers, Cattlemen, and Poultry groups here in Iowa, is trying to take over the term "sustainable" when defending confined animal livestock operations, or CAFOs.

Now, up to this point, the term "sustainable" has been used in agriculture as practices that do not pollute and destroy the environment, conserve soil and nutrients, reduce inputs, and overall, can continue from one generation to the next. Some would called these low input, some might say they are backwards, but at least there is an established definition for it in agriculture.

So, Aaron Putze of the CSIF is now trying to co-opt the term, just like Clinton did of various issues, for the advancement of his own talking points.

Describing a CAFO as "sustainable" is like Clinton saying he didn't have sex with Monica - the opposite is true, but they attempt to be slick enough to get their way on the issue.

A CAFO is the antithesis of sustainable; how long could hogs survive in a confinement without A) propane to keep buildings warm in the winter, B) feed being brought to them by petroleum burning trucks, C) antibiotics to keep the pigs from getting sick, D) manure applicators to haul away their excrement, E) electricity to ventilate the hogs and keeping them from suffocating, F) a rural water supply pumping water to the pigs and to flush the manure, and G) a revolving labor crew to keep everything together? How sustainable is a system that depends on so much outside input?

Now, I realize in order to produce our food and fiber for our growing world we need to utilize our resources, even if some of them are not renewable. The type of farming I practice uses non-renewable fuels and inputs, I'll admit; it's not sustainable in its current situation, but at least I understand this, and am attempting to reduce inputs and produce my own when I can. I don't think anyone is labeling our current society as "sustainable"; we can "sustain" it for a while, but not indefinitely.

Check with people like Practical Farmers of Iowa or the Leopold Center about what "sustainable" is, and you'll find a very different definition than what Aaron Putze is saying.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Top Military Expenditures/GDP

I recently had a little fun comparing the amount of military expenditures countries spend verses their total Gross Domestic Product. I got the data out of Wikipedia here and here. Some countries spend nothing for militaries, and a few countries, like North Korea, have no reported GDP. So, I took what I could get. Here's the top 20 with the percent Military Expenditures make up of the GDP:

  1. Eritrea 15.8% (Somewhat Islamic)
  2. Jordan 11.4% (Islamic)
  3. Israel 7.4%
  4. Somalia 6.6% (Islamic)
  5. Russia 6.5%
  6. Saudi Arabia 5.8% (Islamic)
  7. Yemen 5.8% (Islamic)
  8. Azerbaijan 5.2% (Islamic)
  9. Maldives 5.0% (Islamic)
  10. Bahrain 4.9% (Islamic)
  11. Zimbabwe 4.8%
  12. Burundi 4.8%
  13. Brunei 4.5% (Islamic)
  14. Turkey 4.5% (Islamic)
  15. Morocco 4.4% (Islamic)
  16. Armenia 4.3%
  17. United States 4.1%
  18. Dijibouti 4.1% (Islamic)
  19. Macedonia 4.0%
  20. Singapore 3.8%

That's right, 12 of the top 20 countries are Islamic or somewhat Islamic.

Yes, the United States does spend the most of any country in the world on military, and it does have the largest GDP of any single country. The world average is about 2.0% military expenditures/GDP.

You make up your own mind if we should have a military this large, especially since our sabers are rattling against Iran and "Islamofacists" worldwide.

Thank you, State 29

For those of you coming from State 29's recent blog, welcome. Its an honor to be recognized by State 29 - I visit the page 2-5 times a day, just to see what's going on in our fun little state. State 29 is a common sense blog that holds no punches when it comes to the truth.

Thanks again!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Where the idea of fair and impartial journalism came from

Or at least, an example.

Today's journalists would like you to think that they can be impartial, unjudgemental, and fair in their reporting. Why, they are above the fray, not needing to take sides, lest their "integrity" be compromised.

Yeah, right.

Today's journalists, such as those from the New York Times, CBS News, etc long checked their integrity outside the door. They are no longer objective, neutral reporters, but organs of a vast Liberal network. Some would say that Fox News is the tool of conservatives, or at least the neo-conservatives.

I was reading a bit of family history the other night. My great-grandfather, E.B. McConnell, was a small town newspaper editor/owner in the 1900's through 1940's. He owned and published our local paper, the Humeston New Era. I'd like to think I get a little writing skill from his genetics...

E.B. kept his paper independent in politics. While he and great-grandma Agnes were Republicans, their articles did not appear slanted.

Why not use the press as a bully pulpit, E.B.? Convert the masses to the right way of thinking through your words! Be an agent of change! Crusade for what is right (in your eyes)!

E.B. was smarter than that, however. He knew if he leaned too far left or right, he'd lose readers, and therefore, his livelyhood. Opinions are one thing, but when your bread and butter is threatened, you learn to keep them to yourselves real quick.

On one occasion, in 1924, E.B. did voice his opinion on an apparantly controversial subject - whether the town should have a sewer system put in. He supported this effort of modern sanitation, and the pages of the New Era echoed its virtues. However, some outhouse lovers rebelled and dropped their subscriptions - and their source of toilet paper. While E.B. was right, he lost some revenue, and soon after he returned to more independent writing.

Fair and impartial writing came about, or at least is reinforced, by the notion of trying to reach the greatest audience by appearing to be, well, fair and balanced. That way, a paper may have something for every personal pursuasion and leaning, and could be counted on as a source of undisputable information. Reaching more people means making more money, which is the reason, after all, why a paper exists in the first place. The idea of spreading news alone is noble, but really, it's a vehicle to profit through.

If the writers of the New York Times, or Dan Rather himself, had their pay tied directly to the level of subscriptions at any given time, I think they'd do their best to keep on the straight edge of independent writing and integrity. For while morals break down after a while, money talks, and money walking away screams. If this system had been in place, we might not have had forged National Guard documents, and Dan wouldn't have had to take early retirement.

Nasty attack on Rep. Swaim by R's

As I came back from the mailbox today, I noticed something immediately: VOTE NO ON KURT SWAIM in red stencil letters on a mailer. My interest piqued, I read more. Kurt Swaim is our local representative, and while he is a Democrat, he's fairly conservative and level headed (he got an A from the NRA and a 100% rating from Iowa Right to Life, if that tells you anything).

The mailer, from the Iowa Republican Party, has a picture of a convicted sex offender, Donald Burdett of Bloomfield, IA on the front cover, with the words: "Special Bulletin: Child molester released early into our community" and "Eligible for early release by Kurt Swaim". Basically, the mailer claims that this man, who Swaim represented in Davis County in 2001, was released after serving 4 days in jail instead of a 200 day sentence for "indecent contact with a child" because Swaim was paid $936.50. Furthermore, the flyer claims or infers that Swaim voted to make criminals eligible for early release in a 2003 vote.

Here are my thoughts:
1) I don't know what entails "indecent contact with a child," but it is something worthy enough to put a person on the Sex Offender Registry. Burdett's victim was female age 0-13 in Davis Co. I don't know the background, but if in fact Burdett did something wrong with a young girl, he's a dirtbag. But, he has the right to defend himself in court.

2) Kurt Swaim was Burdett's Public Defender, i.e. Burdett didn't have enough money to hire a lawyer, so Swaim took the job for a small fee. No different than any other situation, just that Swaim is a state representative as well. The judge decided how much time he should serve, not Swaim. Kurt was just doing his job; should he be expected to do less than his duty as a Public Defender because a person is accused of a crime that has taken on a new meaning of "evil" in today's society?

3) Burdett was sentenced in 2001. The early release vote took place in 2003. Swaim's vote in 2003 did not lower the sentence for Burdett; in fact, Burdett was nearing or had ended his 2 year probation (something the flyer fails to recognize) by the time this vote took place.

4) If this is all the Republicans can come up with on Kurt Swaim, they are really at a freakin' loss. Instead of showing off their golden boy, they resort to cutting down Swaim, a very decent guy. I can't even tell you who is running against him; that's how little the Republicans think of their guy, if they can't get his name out to the public.

I've met with Swaim a few times and think he is a pretty good guy. I've even told him I wouldn't consider running for his position until he moved on to something else. I respect the guy too much, and think he's doing a good job for us here in the South of Iowa. So, even when these ads come from my favored (but not favorite) party, I am shocked, dismayed, and pissed off that they'd waste their time and our money on this stuff. Come on, Iowa GOP, can't we have a clean election?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jeff Vonk needs to learn about watersheds, and other things

OK, maybe he was rambling, but come on, Jeff Vonk, Mr. Iowa DNR, learn what is and what is not a watershed.

In a recent article by the DM Register, Vonk went on a tirade:

"It baffles me to this day how people can be so concerned about what are common sense things," Vonk said. "Should you be able to build a new facility right next to a watershed? Should we have to accept manure management plans that call for hauling manure 40 miles away? Should you be able to spread manure on frozen ground? These are common sense kinds of things. The opposition makes it sound like we are some control-seeking dictator here, and that's not what this is about."

Uh, Jeff, everything is in a watershed. If water goes somewhere when it hits the ground, it SHEDS off the ground, i.e. a water shed. If you were NEXT to a watershed, then you'd be in ANOTHER watershed, unless you were somehow floating above a watershed, or the Earth is flat afterall.

Vonk also said farm interests are off base in holding Ventura-area farmer Andy Muff up as a "poster boy" for problems with the Department of Natural Resources. Vonk said Muff does not need a permit for his proposed confinement northwest of Clear Lake and won quick approval of his manure-management plan."There's not a lot of honesty out there," Vonk said.

Huh? Andy Muff is not a "poster boy" of anything as far as I know, other than being a young farmer who's being harrassed by Vilsack, Vonk, and NIMBYs in Clear Lake. He doesn't need a permit because he's building his operation SMALLER than the DNR threshold for regulation, and his manure mangement plan won quick approval because it probably was accurate - Muff even moved some manure application AWAY from Clear Lake just in case. As much as I don't care for confinement operations, Andy Muff is still in the right at this point in time, and Mr. DNR needs to understand that.

As much as I'd like to support Jeff Vonk (agreeing somewhat on local control), he's going to be out of a job come January, no matter who takes over. He's said as much. Wonder why, with comments like these. I'm not sure Sweaty Chetty would want to have him on board...unless he brought donuts for meetings, of course.

By the way, I wrote about Andy Muff in my latest Wallaces Farmer article. Click here to read it.

Watch out Osama, we're ready for you!

Just ran across something interesting - as of today (9/13/2006), Wayne Co, Iowa is one of a handful of cities/counties in Iowa that are fully compliant with Homeland Security Statewide National Incidence Management System.

That means we have in place a system to report disasters, both natural and manmade, up the chain of command, I suppose.

I already feel safer. But I won't feel completely safe until we have troops (or at least some snot nosed TSA workers) guarding every bridge, culvert, ditch, road, electric pole and water hydrant in the county. You know, just in case Granny turns into a terrorist overnight and tries to blow up a major section of Quail Run Road.

I'm not dissing ("saying bad things" for those of you in Sewal) our First Responders and Emergency Management Team - they do a heck of a job when there are fires, accidents, etc. I guess I find it kind of curious that our Federal Government would spend precious $$$ on keeping terrorists out of The South of Iowa. What's Osama going to do, fly a Cessna into a Harvestore? (big blue silo thingy for those of you in Johnston)

Good news about Rathbun Lake

Here in the South of Iowa, we get our drinking water from Rathbun Lake, located near Centerville. Coincidentally, the "headwaters" of various creeks that flow into Rathbun start near my house. Behind the house, it's Nine Mile Creek. At the back of the farm, its Wolf Creek. On the other side of the road, its Chariton Creek. All join into the Chariton River (or South Fork of Chariton River) and go to Rathbun Lake. So, what we do here affects our drinking water.

Here's a snippet about some of the good work being done to protect our water supply.

Normally, the funding level is 50 percent, but Alliance officials boosted it to 75 percent.That level, says Jim Sullivan of Weldon, whose farm is in the Brush Creek sub-watershed 40 miles from Lake Rathbun, makes a huge difference enabling more farmers to participate.With farm payments and operating expenses, plus kids in college, he and his wife, Betty, say they couldn’t handle 50 percent cost-share.“We bought this farm in 1996 and always wanted to terrace it,” he says.“In the 1970s, conventional tillage of the land in this area used to make you sick. You could see the erosion,” states Sullivan. Working with Pickens, the Sull­­ivans installed 19,450 feet of broad-based terraces. They were also the first farmers in the state to utilize a new 10-year low-interest Local Water Protection loan program ($5,000 minimum to $50,000 maximum) offered through the Iowa Division of Soil Conservation. His efforts will reduce the sediment loading by 183 tons per year and phosphorous by 725 pounds.A secondary benefit also developed from the Alliance’s goal of trapping sediment. A sediment retention structure built in 2005 will provide a water source for their 120-head cow-calf herd.The Sullivans’ goal is to do some conservation work every year to protect their farm. Even his mother, and her neighbors, all in their 80s, want to install some conservation measures on their land. “That’s really neat,” says Sullivan.

I know Jim and Betty, and they do a great job of conservation.

The point is, this bit of government coerciveness is OK, in that the results benefit all of society equally. The farmer has to pay for some of the work, but in most cases, the government shares the cost up to 75%. Sometimes it makes it easier for the land to be farmed, as there are no longer any gullies and ditches to drive through; the conservation practices eliminate these.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Politicians with guns...

Continuing with comments about Project Vote-Smart, here's how our Iowa delegation scored with the NRA in 2004:

Grassley: A+
Harkin: Not rated (hmmm)

Nussle: A
Leach: D+
Boswell: A
Latham: A
King: A

House Democrats: 0.96 GPA
House Republicans: 3.72 GPA (Dean's list!)

Senate Democrats: 0.60 GPA
Senate Republicans: 3.58 GPA

Not all reps and senators responded, like Harkin and the Ice Queen, Hillary Rodham Rodham Clinton.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Who supports the Arabs?

I was checking out Project Vote Smart's website tonight, looking at the special interest group ratings of various politicians. I came across the 2004 Arab-American Institute ratings. Intrigued, I copied the data into Excel. Here's what I came up with:

House of Representatives Average Ratings
Democrats: 35.3
Republicans: 3.2

Senate Average Ratings
Democrats: 51.4
Republicans: 13.4

How did our state's representatives and senators do on the Arab American test?

Nussle 0
Leach 33 (RINO!)
Boswell 33
Latham 0
King -5 (just kidding, 0)
Grassley 0
Harkin 67

Scores were based upon the voting records of the reps and senators on certain issues, including accountability for Syria and Saudi Arabia, Immigration, support for an Israel-Palestine wall, Hate Crimes, and Civil Liberties in regards to FISA.

Of our delegation, Steve King got the most "negative" ratings, 4 out of 7.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lineville town council minutes

I enjoy reading the proceedings of town council meetings, especially those of Lineville, the next town south of Humeston on Hwy 65 and, as the name suggests, on the state line with Missouri. The problems experienced by the city of Lineville's town council are a testament to the backwardness of certain people.

Shields (mayor) told the council that the Meyers or Eslick family still owes money to both sides of Lineville for utilities. The debts are now spread out in several family members’ names. The father came into city hall and asked Clerk Brandy Shriver if the water could be turned on in his name.“I told her no. They’re just playing merry-go-round,” said Shields. “I don’t know if that’s legal or not, but I’m willing to find out in front of a judge. It’s the same family–mother, father, son and daughter all live there, so I just took charge. If you guys want me to tell her something different, say so.”Members of the council shook their heads no.Shields said he had asked them to come to city hall and sign an agreement on a contract to get the unpaid bills caught up. The family did not do that.“As far as I’m concerned, they’re shut off until they pay up,” said Shields. “You can play merry-go-round if you want, but they’re going to put it in this kid’s name and then ruin this kid’s credit, too.”

I have seen some of the Eslick family, and let's just say they aren't your most upright outstanding citizens in Wayne Co. They make New Orleans 9th Ward residents look downright cosmopolitan.

Here's more:

Shields pointed out that a new business is going in on the south east corner of the business square and will probably need access to the street behind the building.At one time, Monty Dilliner Sr. was allowed to use part of the street to park vehicles while he worked on them. Then he began using both lanes of the street.“Our intention was to help out, but I’m going to tell the county attorney we want the street back,” said Shields. “I know his (Dilliner Jr.) response will be he’s trying to run a salvage business. Show me a tax number. Show me a business name. Show me the hours. Well, it’s not a business,” said Shields.

Could you imagine if a business in Waukee or Ankeny was allowed to use one side of a street for an auto salvage, then started using the entire street? I'm not trying to run down Lineville, or its residents. At least not all of them. But come on now, can we at least have a bit of civility and responsibility? What is so hard about paying your water bill or not stripping parts off a '92 Buick Regal in the middle of a public street?

I know the mayor, and I know at least one of the city council members. They are doing the best to clean up the town and make it presentable. But when you've got folks as described above trying to get something for nothing, that becomes quite a burden on a small town. They don't seem to understand the responsibilities of being in a community; if they lived on an 80 out in the sticks, they could salvage cars all day long in their own darn driveways, or not pay themselves for water coming out of their own well. But when you're provided services and benefits which are subsidized by your neighbors (as well as yourself), you've got to hold up your end of the bargain.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Readin' the tea leaves

While Jordan thinks I'm a typical domestic beer swillin' redneck, I must admit I am attempting to "rethink my drink".

I have been a Mountain Dew drinker for at least three quadrillion years, and unfortunately, it started to show. In addition, a recent checkup showed that my cholesterol was a bit too high, which from all the consumption of corn syrup and carbonated water, I wasn't too surprised. So, I swore off my once best friend (except for once on the weekend).

But, how to cure the headaches that commonly occur when coming off that sugar/caffiene high? My new found friends are the folks at Gong Fu Tea in the East Village, and their magic tea leaves.

Back in February I stopped by to check it out. I came home with a sampler pack of various teas. When I swore off the yellow, I started consuming the tea for breakfast. Soon I ran out, so yesterday morning I placed an order online. Today in the mail I get a nice box with my purchases. Turkish Tea, Kilimanjaro, Marrakech Market, and Mao Feng - haven't tried them before, but they smell and look great. Sure, the stuff costs more than tea you can get at the local store, but each cup is still cheaper than a 20 oz Dew.

I like the way the Gong Fu guys do business - high quality products with great service. They include handwritten instructions on the packages to get the most out of your tea. It is obvious they love their work.

Does this mean I'm becoming a foo-foo cityfied liberal? Is a Prius going to replace the Chevy 3/4 ton HD 4x4? Not a chance. I'm willing to try something different once in a while. Just because you're conservative doesn't mean you're an intellectual neanderthal, right?

Maybe some Mao Feng with a tall boy of Miller High Life, eh?

Winners on the Web, Vol 1, Issue 1

I'm going to try something new - on Fridays, I'll try to post a few of Des Moines' best people, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Office. You can find these and others here.

First we have Shawn. Don't be a messin' with Shawn, as this 320 lb brother needs a total of $76,700 in bond money for his alleged crimes, including Schedule II narcotics and Possession of a Firearm as felon. Looks like an Ice Cube in-training, eh?

Next up, Pamela, a fiesty redhead with a penchant for burglary. Don't let her get near you, or she'll steal your heart, too. Truely a great woman of society, her debutante friends can bail her out for $50,000.

But, our MVI (most valuable inmate) for this week is Sheri. This well built 22 year old is spending time in Polk County's most luxurious quarters for none other than the biggest award, 1st degree murder. Sheri, it seems, has an interest in the occult, and is accused of taking part in a ritualistic satanic killing of a Des Moines teenager at Woodland Cemetery. Brilliant.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Economic impact of a hog barn

Got the latest Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman in the mail today. Inside was an editorial by Aaron Putze of the CSIF about the benefits to a community of the opening of a new 2400 head hog barn.

One thing that struck me odd - Putze quoted the University of Missouri Extension as having quantified the economic impact a barn of such size would have. UME believes it will return $122,000 in GROSS revenues per year.

Now, to the uniformed, that sounds like, well, OK. However, if you are an agrinerd (such as your gentle blogger), you find the numbers don't match.

In a 2400 finishing building (as we suspect this is), we should see the building inventory turn over 2.7 times per year, not including death loss. So, in one year, 6480 pigs should have been moved through the building. At $122K/year gross revenue, that makes $18.83/head.

So, either one of two things; either UME and Aaron Putze doesn't know how to calculate, because an average pig should sell for around $125/head, making a gross revenue of $810,000 for the building, or , OR the gross revenue is the custom labor payment per pig provided to the owners of the building by the owners of the pigs being custom fed.

If Putze really wanted to show the economic benefit of a 2400 hd building, he'd talk about it in terms of the barn owners also owning the pigs. However, since in order to get a loan for such a building in the first place, a person is probably not going to get to own the hogs, but rather be a custom feeder for someone else. Therefore, the major revenues end up being taken by someone else, not the actual farmer (who is now a custom operator).

What difference does this make? When farmers raised their pigs from farrow to finish, they retained more value of their production. Today, when the farmer has been reduced to a cog in the production system, he is "allowed" a custom feeding fee, even though he owns the buildings (costing upwards of $500K each). The real profits are retained by the integrators (people who shuffle pigs from here to there).

More evidence that Cindy Sheehan is a nut job

Cindy Sheehan, the favorite power tool of the Left, is coming out with a book called Peace Mom. It was probably called "Confessions of a Confused, Dazed, and Hysterical Broad," but the editor was from Jamaica, and he kept telling Cindy "Hey, peace, mon", which then got translated into Peace Mom.

In the book, Cindy fantasizes about going back in time and killing a baby version of George W. She also claims that Hillary Clinton is a conservative in liberal clothing. She and her sister wanted to go after Anderson Cooper after a hard-hitting interview. So much for a peace mom, eh?

At least she cleaned up a bit for her photoshoot...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Who to vote for governor?

I've been following the last couple of days the issue of whether or not Jim Nussle is pro-life or pro-choice. Although he touts his 16 years of 100% pro-life votes, his response to a Project VoteSmart questionaire got him into a bit of hot water, as he replied he supported abortion in the 1st trimester of life, and abortion in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother threatened.

So, I wonder if he really did answer these, or did one of his staffers do it for him without really consulting Jim and knowing his true views? I thought it was rather odd to have Lt. Gov Sally Pederson questioning Nussle's position yesterday as well at a press conference (with about 3 reporters showing up).

I've not met Rep. Nussle, but I have shook hands with Sweaty Chetty. I don't care for Chet at all. Nussle might be a snake, but Chet's a rat (or some rodent like creature). It boils down to which candidate is the lesser of two evils.

Wendy Barth of the Green Party for governor? She's got these huge glasses that could burn an anthill to the ground if the sun was in the right angle. Sorry Wendy, although you had some good zingers on Chet at the IFU convention, I'm not ready to turn to the Green Side.

Maybe I'll write in Ed Fallon instead...I know he's a "progressive" liberal, but at least he's honest. Heck, he even came down and bagged groceries at the local grocery store a few months back, and used my office as a temporary command post. Nice guy. His headquarters in DSM is at an old house in his neighborhood, instead of some high-rent office downtown. And, I totally respect his not taking PAC and corporate money.

Could we have an Ed Nussle? Someone with Nussle's conservative (at least social) convictions with Fallon's honesty and integrity? Someone who, instead of voting for spending increases in Congress, would stop and play the accordion instead? The turtleneck sweaters I could take or leave...

Eh, unless Nussle really screws up, I'll probably end up voting for him. You can tell I am really jazzed about him being governor. Chetty is not an option, especially with Patty "2nd runner up in Janet Reno lookalike contest" Judge in tow. They make such a nice mother/son team, don't they?

Warning - avoid direct exposure to Reno/Culver below

Fast Food Nation

The Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers (CSIF) has a note about the upcoming film portrayal of the book called "Fast Food Nation," by Eric Schlosser.

I read this book a few years ago while I was in B-school for a class I was taking. To be honest, I don't think Schlosser was very far off the mark when he wrote the book. Meat packing is a nasty dirty business that very dangerous and pays relatively little to its workers. It is low margin, high capacity work. That's unfortunate, because there used to be a lot more smaller packing plants out there that paid decent wages.

It should be interesting to see how this film is made, and if it deviates off into some sort of anti-agriculture rant rather than simply a spotlight on one of our industry's rather seemly corners.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Spiders in the Mist...

Took these pictures this morning out in my soybean plot north of the house. I thought the dew would show off the webs better.

These spiders are probably getting nice and fat on the grasshoppers they catch in their webs; we've had a lot of 'hoppers in the last 2-3 weeks. I just noticed the spiders yesterday; they probably thrived because of the GH population. These gals are lowering my GH levels naturally, without me needing to go out and spray some nasty insecticide. Way to go, Nature!

By the way, these are GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) soybeans, specifically Roundup Ready...

Monday, September 04, 2006


I've been reading Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq recently. My wife, the librarian, brought this home for me to read. I'm almost 1/2 done, because it take a lot to stomach the stupidity (if true) that our leadership has been led into.

Here's what I am understanding thus far:
1) We had little to no plan for after conflict reconstruction.
2) Wolfowitz wanted to jeopardize the entire operation by having fewer troops in the theater than prominent generals requested
3) Bremer really screwed things up when he dismissed the Iraqi army, fired all upper level government employees (assuming they were Baathists), and denied pensions to them.

The book is not about whether or not our motive for going to Iraq was correct; its more about how poorly our leadership has done in transitioning Iraq away from Saddam. It makes me believe that the bureaucrats like Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, Donald Rumsfeld, et al do not really understand regime change, much less basic project management skills. The amount of hubris ("attitude" for those of you in Thayer) these guys exhibited is amazing; maybe they should have had their asses kicked a few more times in junior high to take them down a notch or two before taking high ranking positions in the government.

And, AND if bureaucrats as aforementioned exist in the Defense department, they are probably to be found in other nooks and crannies of the Beast. Even the USDA; from my experience going to the Farm Service Agency office in Corydon, I think it has dripped down to the lowest levels.

Regardless of our reasons for going to Iraq, it is clear we did not have a plan, at least an outline of a plan, to complete the mission (if that mission was even totally defined). No matter if Saddam had WMDs or not, it was decided to take him out; fine, but what are you going to do with the rest of the country, Rummy, Wolfy, and Dougy? When your boy Bremer disbanded the army do you think it might be a potential source of pissed off people with knowledge about guns, bombs, and street fighting? Might it be a good idea to keep these guys on ice doing detail while still being paid to keep some sort of stability?

I'm no left wing kook, but I know a rolling cluster f___ when I see one.

So, how do we get out of this mess? Don't look to the D's for leadership. We need a real, hard plan, hopefully from the time-tested military, to take care of this situation. Bush should jettison his neo-cons, but probably will not by the end of 2008. We need real leadership with real solutions, not more hubris and suppositions.

The Internet Superhighway turns to a dirt road here...

...and leaves my ass hanging out.

We have high speed wireless Internet service here at the farm, provided by SIRIS, which is owned by KeyOn Communications of Las Vegas, NV. When we moved here in 2004, this was our best bet for high speed Internet.

For the first year or so, uptime was pretty good; sure, we had some rainfade issues during thunderstorms, but that was to be expected. However, when KeyOn bought out SIRIS about a year ago, we started having problems.

We lost service for hours, then for days, without any explanation from KeyOn. When we'd call their tech support, they'd give the standard answer "We're working on it". After a while, it would come back on.

Saturday, over the Labor Day weekend, we lost service again. It finally came back on for "now" Monday evening. I called SIRIS's tech support line on Sunday. Their message box was full. Guess we weren't the only ones having problems this weekend!

We could possibly switch to DSL from Iowa Telecom; we are only 2 miles from town, so it should work OK. I have their service at my office in town, and it works great, no problems.

I'd like to find SIRIS's tech support manager and find out why they are doing such a crappy job. He/she is probably at a slot machine in Vegas for all I know...

Chariton Farm Machinery Auction Annual Pilgrimage

Today I went to the 40th annual Labor Day Chariton Farm Machinery Auction in Chariton, IA. It is a large, two day consignment auction of tractors, combines, trucks, farm equipment, parts, lawn mowers...basically a bit of everything. My goal was to buy an grain auger, which I had scouted out a few days before.

Most of the equipment is 1970's vintage, and pretty well worn in most cases. A lot of smaller stuff that wouldn't have a home on most modern farms; 4 row planters and cultivators, 13' disks, 15' field cultivators, etc. Also, some orphaned equipment from the change from diversified farms to more crop only operations; forage choppers, silage wagons, manure spreaders, etc.

The crowd was also interesting to watch; a few younger progressive farmers, but mostly old-timers that came for the action. Maybe they are thinking back to their younger days when this equipment was new and they were farming fence row to fence row with their IH 1206's. When the average age of the Iowa Farmer is between 55 and 60, you shouldn't plan to see a young crowd there, I suppose.

I caught up with some folks I know from the area, and we shot the breeze for a while, trying to goad the other into putting a few bids on that IH Loadstar truck with missing title or a Minneapolis Moline G1355. We got talking about the ownership of semi trucks for grain hauling. Most every operation of my size or larger today has semi trucks. However, I can't see the cost effectiveness of owning one. To own a semi and to move my grain, it would cost me $0.25/bushel. That includes my time valued at $12/hour. I can hire this done for $0.22/bushel today. Having a semi would be great, and maybe someday it will pencil out, but until then, I can't justify it.

I ended up buying a 8" x 60' Ferterl auger for $1800. It was in very new shape, so I think I got a deal. I got out of there as quick as I could after buying it so I wouldn't be tempted to buy anything else. This will be used to unload DDGS into my hopper bin (yet to be built) from a semi truck.

Overall, the auction was interesting. Got to see some equipment that had me asking what the heck the engineers were thinking. Why anyone would have bought a White 4-150 Field Boss brand new is beyond must have been his cousin or something.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

This is a pig


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Mentioned in the Iowa Farmer Today...

Gene Lucht of the Iowa Farmer Today wrote a good story about our IFU convention last weekend. I got quoted about my rant on CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) re-enrollment. Check it out here.

Also, my latest article for Wallaces Farmer is here.

The old saying among farmers is that if you get your name in a farm magazine your destined to go bankrupt. I'm in trouble if that's the case...

Local Control - Locals Controlling or Controlling the Locals?

A couple of weeks ago the Des Moines Register (who never makes a mistake, by the way) published some opinions about the state of local control of livestock facilities in our fair state (click here).

So, as a board member of the Iowa Farmers Union, I do support local control. The problem is, how do you define it? Currently, the Farm Bureau is trying to define local control to twist it into something no one would want (except the extreme greenies). I say we need to define it to best suit the situation at hand.

At our IFU convention last week we had an offer of an amendment that would require all residents within a 5 mile radius of a proposed livestock facility (no specs on size were given) to give their approval to allow the facility to go on. It was roundly defeated, thank goodness. I live within 2 miles of town, and if I wanted to feed 20 head of calves out this fall, I'd need signatures from around 1000 people, residing in 3 counties. This is an example of extreme control, and it is definitely not what Iowa needs.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be deprived of my property rights by constantly smelling the manure from a large livestock operation down the road (unless it was my own, of course).

I personally don't care for CAFOs; I think confinement buildings are too expensive for what they do, so I like hoop buildings myself - but then again, I'm a cheap a$$. But, I realize some people believe this is the best way to raise pigs. OK, that's their choice. If they want to be indentured servants to the integrators, that's fine with me. Go ahead and work for $10/head. Don't complain when they pull your contract and you're left with $250K left on the buildings.

We need a good neighbor policy in this state. Its too bad we need to codify something that is common sense, but that's where we are at today.

So, if you want to put up a building down the road from me, I'd like it if you 1) come talk to me before construction starts and explain howI won't be affected by smell, dust, traffic, etc, 2) show me that my property values will not decrease, and 3) show me any benefits I might receive from having a mini-city (in terms of waste and water requirements) a quarter mile away.

If a CAFO operator can show that I will not be negatively affected by their construction, or better yet, guarantee and insure against such infliction, I'm OK with their construction and operation. If they provide free manure to my land, that's even better. I'd feel even better if they lived at the site; at least they have some "local control" of their operation, rather than taking orders from West Des Moines, a la Jeff Hansen and Iowa Select Farms.

If you can't guarantee me these things, then we've got an issue. You cannot take anything from me without proper compensation. We must determine the value of clean air and enjoyment of one's own property. If you decrease or take away from my enjoyment, you must compensate. That may range from an annual payment to buying out my property entirely. I think that's fair.

Property rights on both sides need to be addressed. You have the right to do what you want on your property as long as it doesn't affect my property negatively. I can't tell you what you can and cannot do on your property.

Livestock is very important to our state. We need to continue to grow our cattle and hog herds to take advantage of our corn, soybeans, and ethanol by-products. But, we need to do so that respects everyone's rights. This needs to be done between the operators and the local residents; keep the activists and environmentalists out of the debate, as they only muddy the waters with their rhetoric and hidden agendas.

Welcome to The South of Iowa

Hello everyone, and welcome to my blog, The South of Iowa. Here I will expound ("talk about" for those of you in Milo) on topics I find to be of interest. These may include Iowa politics, government, farm policy, local happenings, and other such events/statements.

The name is a play on the term "South of France", where the well healed go to bask in the warm Mediterranean sun and play with the wealthy foo-foo's. Here, in the South of Iowa, it does get hot, and the nearest beach is Lake Rathbun. So, we're not quite up to speed with France, but that's OK - I don't care to hang around with foo-foo's anyway.

Thanks, and come again.