Friday, April 18, 2014

Get to know Roger Zylstra, ICGA President

I’m Roger Zylstra, the current the president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA).

I have been farming for nearly 40 years growing corn, soybeans and finishing hogs in Jasper County. My wife, Carolyn and I have three children. Our son, Wesley, farms with us.  We use no-till and other conservation farming practices. We use the manure from our livestock for nutrients in growing our crops.

I enjoy the challenges of working outdoors, growing food and fiber. I recognize that there will always be opportunities and challenges in farming. Today farmers work very hard to conserve the land to grow a healthy crop year after year. Also, many farmers, like myself, take great pride in conserving the land for future generations.

I am a graduate of the Iowa Corn I-LEAD program, and I have been involved with ICGA for several years I-LEAD is a resource for talented people who want to contribute to a better future for Iowa’s communities and the long-term profitability of agriculture in Iowa, and is charged with the task of developing stronger leaders for Iowa agriculture. I represent Crop Reporting District 5. I have served on the Iowa Corn Animal Ag and Environment committee because of my involvement in raising livestock and understand how important the livestock industry is to Iowa corn growers.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

My experience at the Engage training event

I’ve always wondered how other people in the agriculture industry go about answering some of the questions that are received from the general public. Personally, I have had some experience with people asking me questions such as, “Why do farmers use GMOs don’t they know how bad they are?” Most of the time, my initial reaction has been to strike out and tell them that they are misinformed but it wasn’t until I attended the Engage Training Event that I realized I hadn’t been solving anything.  In fact, by instantly thinking of it as offensive statement, I had probably missed an opportunity to actually talk to consumers and allow them to see my prospective.
Student at the Engage training event

When I first walked into the Engage training event, I instantly felt as though I was in a professional yet very welcoming setting. There was a presentation on the board and the speaker began to go through some of the discrepancies that come about in the agriculture world. She mentioned how people often say that, “GMO’s are bad,” or that they, “can only eat organic food.” She continued by talking about how we very seldom ever ask them why they think this we just become upset instead. We were then given scenarios where we had the opportunity to try this solution out on our own. Rather than lashing back, we worked to talk with the consumer and ask them why they felt a certain way or what made them think a certain thing. By the end of the speaking experience, I felt much better able to handle these types of situations. It was nice to have a professional talking us through and helping us not to get offensive but to sincerely engage in a conversation and inform our consumers

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crop Updates from Iowa Corn Leaders – Wed., April 16, 2014

Bob Bowman of DeWitt in Clinton County is president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB). He and his son are no-till and strip-till farmers. They just started doing the strip tillage work last week and have another week of work to do on the strips. They usually wait 3 to 5 days or even a week later before they plant after completing the strips.  So, they are a ways off from planting. He says their ground temperature is still around 40 degrees.  Many other farmers in his area did some tillage work last week and a lot of anhydrous was applied. Rain in his area varied from one inch and half to a couple of inches or more just a few miles from him.

In northeast Iowa, Nick Leibold of New Hampton, an ICPB director, says there still hasn’t been much fieldwork in his part of the state. There were a few farmers who sowed oats last week. No one has applied any anhydrous in his area. Leibold spoke to his tiling contractor who said he the first couple feet of soils is thawed but beyond that it is still has not thawed out. He doesn’t expect he will be able to tile for some time. Leibold had golf ball size hail in a storm on Saturday night. He received two inches of rain and an inch or two of snow but most of it has melted.

Roger Zylstra of Lynnville is president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA). In the past week he and his son have been repairing waterways and gullies in the fields that had some damage from heavy rains last year. They also applied some urea on some of their fields that are in a corn-on-corn rotation.  In his area, a lot of anhydrous was applied last week and just a few acres were planted to corn.  They had 3.5 inches of rain over the weekend. That is the most rain they have has since May of 2013 when they experienced field flooding. He says they were extremely dry and there was still frost on the ground last week. So, the rain was needed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Iowa DOT Educates Farmers

Attendees at the DOT Training in Atlantic
In late February, Iowa DOT Training Officer joined 40 farmers in an event held in Atlantic, Iowa. The Iowa Department of Transportation's (DOT) Office, strives to reduce injuries and fatalities by allowing safe and efficient movement of agricultural products, machinery and supplies. The Farmer Safety Initiative aids in this effort by conducting community outreach sessions and answering questions received from farmers. The DOT training that occurred in February allowed farmers to ask questions about medical care, hands free phone usage and license classification.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A serving of meat a day keeps the doctor away

What does mental health and eating meat have in common? According to the Medical University Graz, Austria, it’s quite a bit.

A recently published study found that research subjects who regularly went with the meat option were overall healthier than their vegetarian peers – and happier.

The cross-sectional study observed subjects demographics, lifestyles and dietary habits from an Austrian Health Interview Survey.

“Our study has shown that Austrian adults who consume a vegetarian diet are less healthy (in terms of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), have a lower quality of life, and also require more medical treatment,” says researchers.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Iowa Beef Producers investigate beef market in China


Dean Black, Somers, 712-408-3248
Roger Brummett, Bedford, 712-542-7712
Nancy Degner, Executive Director, Iowa Beef Industry Council, 515-296-2305,

Ames, IA – April 10, 2014 – “There is a hunger for U.S. beef in China. We anxiously await the opening of the market for U.S. beef,” was the consistent message delivered to an Iowa Meat Trade Mission while in China March 31-April 4, 2014.  Iowa beef producers Roger Brummett, Bedford and Dean Black, Somers, represented the Iowa Beef Industry Council on the mission.

China Agricultural Trade Office
“We visited with high Chinese meat traders and staff of the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) to learn about the potential for U.S. beef exports,” said Brummett, Chair of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “They presented an overview of the China market and discussed current policy issues between the two countries that need to be resolved before the market opens,” added Brummett.

The three pillars for U.S. and China relations were listed as food safety, food security and sustainability. China has been closed to U.S. beef since 2003 when the first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was found, and BSE is still listed as a concern as is ractopamine, a feed additive. The country is working towards a better food safety structure with increased regulations for food producers and manufacturers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11, first day corn can be planted in Iowa for crop insurance purposes

By: Fran Howard, Contributing Writer

Following the coldest winters in the United States in four years, corn planting will likely begin on schedule throughout much of the country. However, those who wanted to get into their fields early are likely disappointed.

"Soil temperatures are still fairly low," says Chad Hart, economist with Iowa State University. "Those who like to get out into the field haven’t been able to do that. We are right on the edge of guys getting ready to move." As of the week of April 7, Iowa soil temperatures were in the low to mid-40°F range.
April 11 is the first day corn can be planted in Iowa for crop insurance purposes, and Hart expects producers, particularly those in the southern part of the state, to begin planting soon thereafter.