November 24, 2014

Governor pardons two turkeys from Thanksgiving dinner


Governor Branstad joined Ag Secertary Bill Northey and turkey grower Noel Thompson to pardon Cranberry and Cinnamon.

Governor Terry Branstad issued a pardon today for two Iowa-grown turkeys on a windy cold day at Terrace Hill in Des Moines.

Noel Thompson raised the two turkeys at Circle Hill Farms in Elsworth, and says students at West Marshall elementary school chose the names for the birds. The male turkey is called Cranberry, which Thompson attributes in part to its appearance.

“His waddle maybe resembles cranberries just a little bit. And we called our hen here cinnamon, because like so many times in life, women add a lot of spice to life,” Thompson says. The governor was joined by First Lady Chris Branstad and their grandchildren for the annual tradition. He says Iowa is a key turkey producer.

“This is a good lean high-protein nutritious food, and of course we all look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey,” Branstad says. The governor read a proclamation sparing the two birds from being the main attraction at a Thursday dinner. “Now therefore, I Terry E. Branstad, governor of the State of Iowa do herby proclaim Cinnamon the turkey and Cranberry the turkey, free from the harm of the carving knives and gravy for this Thanksgiving,” Branstad says. “They’re going to living history farms.”



The turkeys stood patiently as Branstad’s grandkids petted them and then the group was joined by Thompson and state Ag Secretary Bill Northey for a picture. Branstad’s grandkids were saying turkey, turkey and turkey pardoning as they posed for the picture and the turkeys played along by gobbling for the grandkids.

Thompson says 11-million turkeys are raised annually in Iowa, with the majority going to processing plants in Storm Lake and West Liberty where they are processed into sandwich meat.

“And most of those you will find people having for lunch every day of the week,” Thompson says. Thompson, who is president of the Iowa Turkey Federation,  says turkey prices have dropped a little this year as the cost of production has dropped along with grain prices. He says about 60-percent of the cost of raising turkeys is for the feed. There are approximately 130 turkey farmers in the state.


David Young will enjoy the holidays and then go to work

David Young

David Young

David Young will have a little time to catch his breath before heading to Washington, D.C. where he will take over in his new job as the congressman representing Iowa’s third district.

Young, a Republican, was in the nation’s capital recently for orientation, and is now back in Iowa. “I’ll spend Thanksgiving with the family and then will continue to do some visits and meetings here in the 3rd district,” Young says. “January 6th is swearing in and I’m looking forward to that because I am just looking forward to getting to work and we’ll start the 114th Congress.”

Young first announced he was running for the U.S. Senate, then changed to run for the U.S. House after the retirement announcement of Tom Latham. He finished 5th in the Republican primary, but then won the nomination at the party convention when none of the candidates won it outright on primary night. Young then went on to win the general election and finds himself ready to join the Iowa delegation.

“It is setting in and it will really set in when I’m sworn in, and that’s when it’s really real,” Young says. He did find out the location of his Washington office while at the orientation. The 57 new members of the House got to draw for office space. “I drew 47th out of 57 in choosing space. I came down to the fifth floor of Cannon, which they kind of call the attic,” Young says. “And Tom Latham started there, and I learned that Nixon started up there as well as J.F.K. We were just anxious to find our space so we could build our staff, and it’s five-one-five House Office Building.”

Young says he got a chance to talk with Iowa’s other new congressman, Rod Blum while at the orientation. And he talked with returning congressmen, Steve King and Dave Loebsack as well.


Ethanol backers pleased with EPA pull back on renewable fuel standard

Gas pumpSupporters of renewable fuels in Iowa say they are pleased with the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they delaying their decision on a proposal that would have dramatically cut the amount of renewable fuels required to be used in the country.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director, Monte Shaw, has been fighting the decision on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard or RFS since it was announced.

“Well at this stage, I’m not sure what would surprise us,” Shaw. Shaw says he was at a rally with the governor and members of the congressional delegation to defend the RFS in Nevada at this time last year.

“And here we are one year later and they’re deciding they need more time to decide. So, I think the signs are clear that they’ve understood that this proposal isn’t going to fly that has been out there and they are going to redo it and get it right. So, I am going to be cautiously optimistic,” Shaw says.

The EPA proposal would cut the amount of ethanol required in the RFS by 3 billion gallons. Shaw says there is some good news in the decision to take more time. “If they wanted to just finalize the draft proposal, they had 365 days to do it and they didn’t,” Shaw says. “So that tells me that clearly they got a message that they need to get back to having the RFS do what it was supposed to do — which is help consumers get access to the higher ethanol blends, biodiesel blends and cellulosic ethanol.”

Shaw says ethanol has continued to show its importance as a fuel. “Ethanol is still the cheapest source of fuel on the planet, not just octane, but it’s still cheaper than gasoline. So, the more ethanol we get in our fuel supply, the cheaper it is going to be,” Shaw says. “Part of the reason that they had originally put our the draft rule that would have gutted the RFS is they were concerned about gas prices. And that you wouldn’t be able to use enough ethanol and that would cause gas prices to go up.”

He says those fears were unfounded. “I think the market over the last 12 months has shown that that was a misplaced fear, that that was a big oil talking point, that unfortunately the administration bought into for some time,” Shaw says. Shaw isn’t ready to say the RFS fight is over, but he is happy with the EPA’s latest move. “Again, I’m going to be optimistic that this is the administration saying we need to hit the reset button on this proposal. We need to go back and get the numbers right, get the methodology right and get back to having the RFS do what it was supposed to, which is to crack the monopoly that oil has,” according to Shaw.

Governor Terry Branstad, Iowa’s Ag Secretary, Senators Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley, all issued statements praising the decision to delay the action on the EPA renewable fuels proposal.


State unemployment rate drops to 4.5% in October

Workforce-DevThe state’s unemployment rate dropped in October. Radio Iowa’s Iowa Workforce Development says unemployment dropped down to 4.5 percent in October, that’s the same rate it had held at in July and August before moving up to 4.6-percent in September.

It’s slightly ahead of the October unemployment rate one year ago of 4.4 percent. But IWD says the total number of Iowans working is nearly 35,000 higher than it was one year ago. Nonfarm employment dropped 200 jobs in October, which IWD says was the first drop since March and only the third decline this year. The agency says weaker than expected seasonal hiring in local and state government led to some of the loss.

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 percent in October compared to 5.9 percent in September.


Congressman-elect Young: securing border first step in immigration reform

David Young

David Young

Congressman-elect David Young says President Obama’s plans for immigration reform do not address what he says is the most important issue. “For me, I’ve always said first of all in any immigration package, we have to secure the border first, first and foremost the border. And that comes in conjunction with securing the homeland and then enforcing the rule of law, whatever it is, and right now we’re not enforcing the rule of law,” Young says.

The Republican who is preparing to represent the third district, was asked his definition of securing the border. “It means nobody is flowing through the border, whether it’s the northern border or southern border,” Young replies. “The president I believe on his own could be working to secure that border on his own with the border patrol agents and the funds.”

Some Republicans say they may have to shut down the government to stop the president’s actions on immigration, Young is not ready to do that. “I want to make sure the government is open, I don’t think that helps in any real manner, I think it costs money in the end. I think there are some tools that we can possibly use. There are some defunding mechanisms that we can probably use,” Young says. “But what we have to understand with what the president is doing, it is going ot be hard to use funds — or lack thereof and the power of the purse — to do that because what is happening now is those application fees are funding what’s going to be happening with the president’s action.”

Young says he has talked with the Latino community in his district about the issue. “For the most part they want the rule of law enforced,” Young explains. “This really gets at those folks who came over here legally, man of them in the Latino population, the African population, the Asian population. They are a little bit disappointed that some folks are getting this favoritism, while those folks came through the right way.”

On other issues, Young says he wants to see spending and tax bills come forward, and he wants to see the Keystone pipeline approved. “I think that we’re going to have the votes in the 114th Congress to pass that and possibly override any veto, I am hopeful of that. But that’s something that I want to make sure that we get passed as well,” Young says.

He also expects with the House and Senate both now controlled by Republicans, that they will try to repeal Obamacare. “I’m assuming that there is going to be an up or down vote on repeal, and I would vote for repeal,” Young says, “because I thought it was a bad law and a bad policy. And if that doesn’t succeed, there are ways to dismantle this law and make it better.” Young says there are some things he would like to keep in the federal health care law, such as making sure that people with preexisting conditions can stay on insurance, and allowing kids to stay on their parent’s health care plan up to the age of 26.

Young made his comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight (Friday) on Iowa Public Television.

Supreme Court rules in New Albin harassment case involving teens

gavel-thumbnailThe Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that found a New Albin teen should not have been declared a juvenile delinquent. A girl reported a confrontation with another girl at a bus stop where she says the first girl called her names and swore at her in February of 2013. Both of the girls are 15 and their names were not revealed in court documents.

The first girl told police the other girl had been continually harassing her at school. The girl’s mother said they had considered moving because of the harassment. The state sought to have alleged harasser declared a juvenile delinquent. The juvenile court found the statements by the one girl were meant to intimidate the other girl and constituted harassment means of intimidation. It ruled the girl should be declared a juvenile delinquent.

The Iowa Court of Appeals found the juvenile court erred in its definition of intimidation and overturned the ruling. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed, saying there is insufficient evidence in the record to support the declaration of the girl as delinquent. It says the state failed to prove the girl purposefully or intentionally made personal contact with the other girl with the specific intent to threaten, intimidate, or alarm her.

The court says it clearly does not condone the behavior demonstrated in this case, but says the juvenile court committed an error when it declared the girl a delinquent under the harassment statute and reversed the judgment of the juvenile court.

Here’s the full ruling: Juvenile ruling PDF


Survey finds cost of Thanksgiving dinner up slightly

Turkey dinnerThe American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual survey on the cost of serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal is out.

Iowa Farm Bureau director of research, Dave Miller, says you won’t have to find much more cash than you did last year to buy all the food for ten people . “The Thanksgiving feast is basically stable in cost at about $49.41 according to the American Farm Bureau study. We’ve been within about a 20-cent range on the cost of that meal for the last four years,” Miller says.

He says the increase is less than the cost of a postage stamp. “It’s up 37 cents from a year ago, it’s still actually cheaper than 2012,” Miller says. The checks the price of turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of celery and carrots, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk.

“The biggest ingredient is the turkey, and it was actually down 11 cents from a year ago,” Miller says. “The biggest upside was probably the sweet potatoes that were up 20 cents for three pounds of sweet potatoes, so up about three cents a pound.”

Commodity prices have dropped dramatically last year, and Miller says there was some impact. “It doesn’t show up a lot, although the pie shells were actually down seven cents, the rolls were down a penny, the stuffing was down 13 cents. So, those things that were grain-related were all down in price. The things that tended to be up in price were the things that tended to be more dairy and livestock related,” according to Miller.

The turkey averaged $21.65 cents or $1.35 a pound. “Turkey production took a hit when corn prices were high coming out of the 2012 drought when corn prices were high, but turkey production is up on a national basis, and that’s part of the reflection of turkey prices, slightly lower this year,” Miller says. At around $49s for 10 people, the cost of the meal is $5s per plate. But Miller says this is a nationwide average cost and you may be able to find some local bargains.

“One of the things that shoppers report are there are places that if you spend 50 bucks or 100 bucks that the turkey may be free,” Miller explains. “So there are some real good promotions to get you in the store and with the use of coupons and some other things, the price of your Thanksgiving feast could be substantially less than five dollars per person.” This was the Farm Bureau’s 29th annual study of the cost of the Thanksgiving meal.