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Farm Fresh Blog Welcome to Farm Fresh, Iowa Farm Bureau's blog about the people who bring you your food, fuel, and fiber, and the issues they face.

Farm Fresh blog

Welcome to Farm Fresh, Iowa Farm Bureau’s blog about the people who bring you your food, fuel, and fiber, and the issues they face. Learn more about the purpose of this blog and its relevance to you here.

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Northern Iowa farmers share RAGBRAI route sites

7/12/2017

From crops to conservation and landmarks, cyclists have a chance to appreciate Iowa's diverse agriculture and beauty

What’s better? Iowa or California?

7/6/2017

How a traveler's fascination of California agriculture and landscape turned into increased Iowa pride

Sharing the beauty of Iowa on a visit to Poland

7/3/2017

In Poland, folks may not understand the fierce rivalry of Cyclone and Hawkeye fans or Iowa farmers’ dedication to either red or green tractors. But they can clearly see the pride that Iowa farmers have in their farms, their state and helping to sustainably feed, clothe and fuel the world.

Making cooking outdoors a fun family event this July 4th

6/30/2017

Finding ways and time to bond and connect with family can be a real challenge, especially with working parents and children involved in countless activities. For many, the upcoming 4th of July holiday presents a great opportunity to gather with family and friends and enjoy some quality time outdoors and share a hot, fresh meal from the grill. For my family, it’s our tradition.

Food allergies, labels and misconceptions

6/22/2017

When you eat out or shop at the grocery store, you probably don’t worry about whether the food you’re buying will give you hives or worse.

Then versus now

6/20/2017

What do you recall about the summers of your youth? When I think of the summer of 1978, I remember bean walking with my ‘Girl Crew’ at dawn, trying to get a field done before the mid-day heat found us.

It’s the summer of pink pineapples

6/19/2017

I find it interesting that in a time when many foods now carry “non-GMO” labels as a marketing gimmick to play up on the all-natural trend, people don’t seem to care much that the pink pineapple is a GMO. Instead, they are thrilled that it looks good on Instagram.

 I scream for ice cream! And shakes… and pie a la mode…

6/12/2017

Although it may be silly, to me ice cream provides not only a satisfying taste but also an emotional connection. Wait, did I just say that out loud?

A wrong or right way to farm?

6/7/2017

Why is it that farmers raise livestock in different ways? Is there such thing as a “right” way and a “wrong” way?

Focus on eating more strawberries, not whether they’re organic

6/5/2017

When it comes to our health, more fruits and veggies is better – whatever your budget or personal preference.

Three super easy ways to celebrate Dairy Month

5/31/2017

Dairy Month offers much to celebrate from the incredible number of products produced from dairy cows and goats to the ways farmers raise dairy more efficiently and with fewer impacts on the environment.

Running is like farming

5/24/2017

Both running and farming are mentally and physically exhausting, requiring an immense amount of endurance.

Food choices are good for all

5/17/2017

We as consumers can see the resourcefulness and innovation of farmers reflected in our food prices and selections, although we may not be aware how this benefits us individually.

E15: It’s a fuel for every season

5/10/2017

These are all good signals that gas stations can get the green light to offer drivers the benefits of E15 every day of the year. Now let’s hope that lawmakers and regulators can bring some common sense and year-round E15 to the finish line.

I’m a “No GMO” shopper – but not by choice

5/8/2017

Why am I still seeing “No GMOs” on the foods my family eats every day? Because like a “gluten free” label on potato chips or a “low fat” label on gummy bears, it’s about marketing. And food companies are struggling with lower sales as consumer preferences change.

Farm Bureau’s investment in small businesses, rural communities is instinctive

5/1/2017

Farmers are no strangers to taking something small and growing it into something that yields tremendous value – for themselves and the communities around them.

Up-and-coming agriculture leaders forecast a bright future

4/27/2017

The second week of April saw blue jackets all around Ames for the 89th annual Iowa FFA Leadership Conference. FFA students from all corners of the state gathered for career development contests and discussions with their peers and agricultural employers in attendance, bringing a wave of excitement and optimism along with them.

Future is bright for FFA students

4/25/2017

Working in the Iowa Farm Bureau booth at the 2017 Iowa FFA Leadership Conference, I met with young students who were not only Farm Strong but farm smart. Unlike me at that age, these young people know exactly where their passion lies, and that’s within agriculture.

8 fresh water quality stats for Earth Day

4/21/2017

Earth Day is a good time for all of us to reflect on the condition of our natural resources, what we’re doing to protect them, the progress we’re making, and how we can do even more to take on the challenge of protecting them in the future.

A true superhero, ethanol fights for good

4/12/2017

I’m really not into the whole super hero craze which seems to dominate movie screens every summer. But if I had to choose a superhero to admire, I’d go with ethanol.

36 hours of rain, wind, and cold means round-the-clock care for baby calves

3/30/2017

These rainy days aren't just a drag on us; they're also an issue for our animals. Cattle farmer Brian Jones explains...

Wildfires spur kindness from all directions

3/28/2017

Iowa farmers are stepping in to aid the many ranchers affected by wildfires that have scorched roughly 1.6 million acres in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado, wiping out not only forage but many multi-generation homesteads, entire cattle herds and also causing a handful of tragic deaths.

Did you see that? Don’t overlook Iowa’s water quality gains

3/21/2017

Cover crops, buffer strips, and wetlands might not look impressive, but they are producing some amazing results!

Iowa's water quality progress is happening in your backyard

3/20/2017

Cleaner water starts with science and goals, but ultimately it takes teams of individuals, organizations, businesses and government entities committed to getting the job done in communities around the state. That’s where Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative is truly excelling.

Greenway's gridiron success, character stem from "Farm Strong" roots

3/10/2017

Chad Greenway’s gridiron success is well known, but his Farm Strong character that made him the perfect fit for the ANF squad is less reported.

The world’s love of Iowa meats goes way beyond chops and steaks

3/9/2017

While most Iowans prefer chops, steaks and burgers, the overseas demand for what are euphemistically called “variety meats” is a big deal for our state.

5 things I learned about ethanol

3/8/2017

When I read a recent USDA study which stated ethanol reduces Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by about 43 percent, compared to traditional gasoline, I knew for the sake of being a gasoline consumer married into a farm family, I wanted to know more.

Iowa -- the place to be

3/2/2017

Being a lifelong Iowan and a farmer’s daughter, I admit I’m a little biased about our great state.

Power through your day with protein-rich meat, eggs and dairy

2/28/2017

High-quality, or "complete," proteins found in animal-based foods, such as beef, pork, poultry, eggs and dairy, contain all the essential amino acids and are easily digestible.

FFA: For future farmers, teachers, chemists, veterinarians, and more!

2/23/2017

With the agriculture industry expanding over the past few decades, so has the FFA.

Young farmers engage in ‘food fight’ to beat hunger

2/7/2017

As a Cyclone fan, I have to celebrate wins as they come (especially if it’s a win over Kansas at Kansas). So, I’m super excited to announce Cyclone fans triumphed during the Young Farmer Conference “food fight.”

Young Farmer Conference begs question, what makes a real farmer?

2/1/2017

What makes a "real" farmer? Caitlyn Lamm has the answer.

Iowa: A nationally-recognized pioneer in rural entrepreneurship

1/17/2017

Corn, soybeans, pigs, and ethanol; if you live in Iowa, you probably know that our state leads the nation in producing these (and other) farm commodities. But you might not realize that Iowa is quickly becoming a nationally-recognized leader in churning out another important product: rural entrepreneurs.

Water quality: Some assembly required

12/12/2016

Some assembly required. Those three words strike fear in the hearts of parents as Christmas approaches...

Bringing physicians to rural Iowa

12/5/2016

Rural Iowa has an abundance of so many things: friendly people, wide open spaces or historic Main Streets, where one can shop in boutique businesses or enjoy a slice of pie so good it seems to stop time while you eat it. Sure, you can find all those things, and more; but too often, what you won’t find is a doctor.

Farm Bureau: Your neighbor since 1918

12/5/2016

Imagine living in every Iowa community for 98 years (or longer), and you’ll understand why Farm Bureau devotes its energy and millions of dollars annually to the pillars that help support our entire state, from farm families and rural communities to students of all ages.

Celebrity turkeys shine light on superb livestock care

11/21/2016

While I’m looking forward to spending time with my family in northeast Iowa this year, I got an early taste of Thanksgiving when I met a family in northwest Iowa who raised turkeys to be part of a special turkey pardoning tradition at the White House.

The secret ingredient to water quality

11/14/2016

As we have witnessed this year more than any other, life is about change. Whether change is brought about with much hand-wringing or embraced as a bold, new challenge, change can only be successful if it walks arm-in-arm with its old friend: Patience.

5 things veterans and farmers share in common

11/9/2016

My dad was different from other family members who served our country, however. When my dad finished his time in the Army, he came home to farm. He had opportunities to continue a military career in Washington, D.C., but turned it down. The farm called him home. After meeting more veteran-farmers recently, it got me thinking about how service men and women and farmers are a lot alike.

Voting: a privilege that should not be taken for granted

11/3/2016

The unquestioned right to vote that we take for granted here, is not a given around the world.

Farming is sprouting up in urban areas

11/1/2016

Each year, I’m seeing more and more urban farmers at the market. Plus, there are school gardens and neighborhood gardens sprouting up all over the city and suburbs.

ISU students forecasting agriculture’s bright future

10/26/2016

It’s not difficult these days to find stories that paint a gloomy short-term outlook for the agricultural economy. But if a recent career fair at Iowa State University is a barometer, when the clouds part ag’s future will be looking bright.

Slow down, let farm equipment pass, and enjoy Iowa this fall

10/24/2016

With harvest underway, it’s even more important to be careful on the roads.

Why ANF matters to you, even if you don’t farm

10/20/2016

While it’s a source of pride for those of us with a farm background, I can’t blame you for asking why ANF should matter to you, thirty-one years later.

Growing more food, using fewer resources

10/11/2016

Smart people from all over the world will gather in central Iowa this week during the World Food Prize celebration to discuss the best ways to feed the world’s growing population, while protecting the environment.

The report card is in; water quality progress shows through

10/10/2016

Iowa’s three-year-old Water Quality Initiative is off to a strong and very promising start. How do we know that? Simple: it’s the report card.

Organic, natural, or conventional: so many choices for new parents

9/28/2016

A few weeks ago, my daughter came down with a nasty case of eczema after getting sick from a cold. I searched the baby aisle of Target, trying to find anything to stop the itching and make her more comfortable. I discovered that there are “natural” or “organic” versions of nearly every baby product you can imagine – from diapers to baby wipes, shampoos to cold medicines, rice cereal to baby food.

Americans’ great deal on food is getting even better

9/13/2016

As the weather cools and we head into autumn, food is top of mind for Americans. Folks will get out the slow cooker to prepare savory roasts and stews for cooler fall nights. They’ll simmer up the perfect chili to tailgate at the big football game. And, of course, it won’t be long until it’s time to plan for the bountiful Thanksgiving feast.

Agriculture is key to learning

9/7/2016

Schools are back in session and students are hitting the books! We all want to see our kids succeed, and a solid foundation in subjects like reading, math, science, and social studies leads to that success. Regardless of the subject, kids connect to learning so much better when it is relevant to them and their lives.

Iowa family’s heritage strengthened by determination and years of conservation

8/24/2016

Sustainability may be a buzz word today, but it was alive and well last week at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa Farm Bureau’s Century and Heritage Farm Awards at the Iowa State Fair.

Illinois farmers impressed by Iowa’s collaboration, aggressive adoption of water quality practices

8/17/2016

The Governor, Secretary of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources director, and mayor of Cedar Rapids walk into a room… It’s no joke. As 15 Illinois farmers learned last week, Iowa is pursuing water quality solutions in ways that may seem laughable in other places.

Spotlighting farmers’ water quality efforts at the Iowa State Fair

8/8/2016

I’ve been around Iowa agriculture a long time, but last week was a first for me: I visited a field where a farmer was having a saturated buffer and a bioreactor installed side-by-side. It was pretty cool to see all of that water quality improvement action in one spot. But it might not be the last time dual installation happens around the state, given the way that farmers all over Iowa are tackling the challenge of improving water quality.

Listening and learning about a great opportunity for Iowa

7/29/2016

Over the years, I’ve been to a lot of public hearings about Iowa livestock projects. But I’ve never been to one quite as open and informative as last week’s hearing about the proposed Prestage Foods pork processing plant in Wright County.

Different Landscapes, Common Values - A World Apart

7/18/2016

As different as Japan is from the Iowa countryside, we share many similar values with the people. One of the most profound similarities that struck a chord with me was the value the Japanese place on their land.

Similarities between Iowans and Japanese create opportunities

7/15/2016

It’s easy to notice differences when you first set foot in a place like Tokyo or Yamanashi, Japan. Surprisingly, it doesn’t take too long to find similarities either.

A grateful neighbor half-way around the world

7/14/2016

It’s a long-standing Iowa tradition that neighbors help neighbors in times of need. It’s what makes our state special and it was the driving force of the renowned Yamanashi hot lift in 1960.

When Pigs Fly: Hog Lift Legacy Connects Iowa, Japan

7/13/2016

“When pigs fly” is one of those sayings reserved for something so ridiculous, so impossible it will never happen. It makes sense—until you travel to Japan like I did recently. I saw how the legacy of one Iowan’s kindness to the people of Japan more than 50 years ago reflects what can happen when pigs fly.

Iowa’s friendship to Japan stands the test of time

7/11/2016

A gesture of friendship and caring from Iowa to Japan—in the form of a couple dozen breeding hogs and some sacks of feed—has stood the test of time. And, as a group of Iowan farmers found out recently, the aid effort 56-years ago is renowned at the highest levels of U.S. diplomacy in Japan even today.

Finding familiar treats far from home

7/7/2016

A trip to Japan in preparation for a visit by Iowa Farm Bureau presidents has revealed a lot about why passage of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, or TPP, trade deal is so important for Iowa agriculture, and all of Iowa.

Iowa agriculture is not just corn and soybeans anymore

6/28/2016

This Fourth of July weekend, my family will make our annual trek along Interstate 35 to my hometown of Northwood, more commonly known as the last Iowa town you pass through on the way to a Minnesota Twins game.

WoMEn in Agriculture

6/22/2016

Nestled in the very northwestern corner of Illinois, you will find the place I call home.

Virtual tours help farmers host far-flung visitors

6/14/2016

Technology is helping Iowa agriculture bring school kids and others right to the farm. And there’s no need to worry about sunburns, bug bites or long trips on the bus.

GMO versus organic? Why not both?

5/31/2016

Can somebody be both a backer of biotechnology in agriculture and a supporter of organic farming? I think so. In fact, I see myself as one.

New study reaffirms GMO safety, Dr. Oz and GMO opponents pivot

5/19/2016

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine just published an extensive report reviewing more than 900 GMO studies and data covering 20 years. Among the conclusive findings: food from GMO crops is just as safe as food from conventionally bred crops and it poses no added risk to the environment.

Des Moines Water Works’ great idea to reduce nitrates in water

5/13/2016

I recently read that Des Moines Water Works is creating a one-acre wetland test site to help remove nitrates from the Raccoon River (which provides drinking water for central Iowans).You don’t need to...

Getting beyond the ‘mom guilt’ over what my child eats

5/5/2016

This Sunday, I will be celebrating Mother’s Day with a whole new perspective – as a first-time mom to an amazingly perfect little girl.Back when I was a kid, my dad used to warn me not to get between...

Teaching ag today goes way beyond corn and cows

4/26/2016

Do you know a high schooler who’s looking for a bit of career advice as high school graduation nears? Maybe a bright young man or woman who just isn’t quite sure what direction to pursue as they prepare...

Iowa Envirothon showcases tomorrow’s innovators today

4/18/2016

Back when I was a student, I relished the opportunity for a class field trip to leave the school campus to see something new and different. Each trip was an adventure and provided a learning experience...

Spring is time for new life on the farm

4/12/2016

It’s fun to walk the dog around my Des Moines neighborhood these days because there are signs of new life everywhere you look. Daffodils and tulips are blooming. Parents are taking their bundled-up...

The #1 reason Iowa is “Farm Strong” (in a blowout)

4/4/2016

It’s settled – decisively.Nearly 1,000 people entered our Farm Strong “Merch Madness” contest (for merchandise autographed by Iowa State Cyclone coaches Steve Prohm and Bill Fennelly) and voted for the...

No foolin' me, there's plenty happening in Iowa agriculture

3/29/2016

It’s April Fools’ week, which means I’m always leery about opening text messages and emails from my family and friends, many of them pranksters.However, my work inbox is a different story. Looking at...

The “Final 4” Reasons Iowa is “Farm Strong”

3/28/2016

Your odds of picking a perfect NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket were 1 in 9.2 quintillion.Your chance to win “Farm Strong Merch Madness” (merchandise autographed by Iowa State Cyclone basketball...

Celebrating Ag Day year-round

3/15/2016

It’s National Ag Day, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t celebrate the day.I don’t celebrate the day specifically because I celebrate agriculture the entire year. I know it sounds corny, but there’s...

5 fresh stats prove Iowa’s water quality progress

3/10/2016

Iowa’s water is like a college basketball team that’s elevating its play heading into the tournament.It’s not perfect (the “talking heads” on the sidelines can point to its flaws), but there’s no doubt...

Our focus on supporting Iowa’s young people

3/9/2016

The Iowa Farm Bureau has always believed that one of the most important things we raise in Iowa isn’t planted in the ground, it’s Iowa’s young people. They are the lifeblood of our communities and a promise...

Iowa farms spring to life with newborn calves

3/7/2016

Spring may officially start on Mar. 20, but some farmers have already started their spring season, spring calving season, that is. It’s Luke Schuldt’s favorite time of the year, hands down.“This is really...

Sparking Iowa's rural economy

2/24/2016

We focus a lot on our Farm Fresh blog about all the work that Iowa farmers do to fill our plates and conserve the water and land.What we probably don’t discuss enough is how Iowa farmers, and Farm Bureau...

Collaborating to keep animals healthy, antibiotics effective

2/22/2016

Shortly after my husband and I moved into our home, our dog, Giovanni, began scratching his face and biting his paws. He didn’t show these signs before we moved, so my husband and I were concerned. We...

Between the Lines: A day in the life of an Iowa farm dog

2/18/2016

His name was Grouch. He was a German Shepherd dog; black, broad and taller than most, with a white blaze on his chest. My dad always claimed Grouch was ‘part wolf,’ mostly because it kept salesmen within earshot off our farm.

Caring for animals at the Iowa Beef Expo

2/17/2016

Earlier this week, photographer Gary Fandel and I ventured out to the Iowa State Fairgrounds for the Iowa Beef Expo. The expo celebrates the best in cattle genetics throughout the state, and welcomes...

GMO – Should we really “just label it”?

2/15/2016

“Just label it.” It’s the mantra of GMO opponents seeking mandatory labels on food products containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms).Strangely, the message is also gaining favor with some weary...

Sparking students' interest in sciences through agriculture

2/4/2016

 Back during my college days, when I was taking freshman classes in huge lecture halls at Iowa State University (ISU), I studied biology before I switched majors to journalism.Admittedly, looking back,...

Democracy on full display in Iowa

2/2/2016

Democracy was on full display this week in Iowa’s small towns and big cities, in school gyms, churches and many other sites around the states as citizens gathered for the Iowa Caucuses. They came out...

The caucuses: Iowa’s big chance to make a difference

1/25/2016

Like many of Iowans, I’ve been checking my caller ID pretty closely this month trying to avoid robocalls from political campaigns. (Sorry Aunt Bertha, if I don’t recognize your number, I’m not picking...

Young farmers, rural entrepreneurs full of fresh ideas for today’s problems

1/13/2016

Dakota Hoben (pictured right) participates in the 2016 American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet.A fresh set of eyes can make all of the difference in finding solutions to persistent issues.Luckily, Iowa has...

Water quality experts: farmers are cooperating, even when nature doesn’t

12/22/2015

Cover crops are one of many science-based conservation practices farmers are embracing to protect water.Don’t mistake this explanation for an excuse.Weather causes nitrates to seep from Iowa’s naturally...

Flooding in December? With Iowa weather, you just never know

12/15/2015

Is Iowa’s weather unpredictable? Just ask the folks organizing the Jolly Holiday Lights event in Des Moines’ Water Works Park. Record December rains forced them to cancel the event for the rest of the...

Giving back

12/7/2015

One in eight Iowans experiences hunger; either there isn’t enough to go around after they get done paying heating bills, or they have to choose between their child’s school expenses or medications.  There...

Thankful for Iowa’s turkey farmers

11/25/2015

Iowa turkey farmer Mark HerrigThis Thanksgiving, as my grandmother-in-law serves the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and chicken-filled raviolis (she’s Italian), I’ll pause an extra minute to think about...

Is the Des Moines Water Works leader really worth a half million bucks?

11/17/2015

So is Bill Stowe worth a half-million dollars?The Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) board, a public utility, has agreed to pay Stowe, their CEO, a $500,000 bonus for staying on the job through 2020. That’s...

It’s almost turkey time, and there’s going to be plenty

11/12/2015

With Thanksgiving a few weeks away, I can’t stop daydreaming about the holiday meal and piling up my plate with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and my favorite pumpkin pie. I’ve been scoping out the...

Moving beyond blah, blah, blah to show the safety and value of GMOs

10/30/2015

Have you heard about the safety and value of GMOs? Probably not, and that’s a big problem.America’s food and environmental safety agencies have repeatedly vouched for the safety of foods made with crops...

Take it from an Iowa farm girl: here are 10 good reasons to keep eating meat

10/28/2015

Just when I’d dealt with the whole ‘sitting is the new smoking’ study, by upping my exercise regimen,  it now appears another aspect of my daily life is casting health dispersions; red meat.  But this...

Food, and having enough, creates a universal language

10/15/2015

Food, and having enough of it, creates a universal language. That was underscored for me recently when I attended the annual Iowa Hunger Summit, and during the luncheon, I found myself sitting between...

8 early takeaways from the World Food Prize

10/14/2015

The World Food Prize is a mixture of old and new.Every year the Des Moines-based conference poses an age-old question (how should we feed a growing world population?) and gathers global leaders for renewed...

Meet a former Iowa Hawkeye and NFL lineman who is literally “Farm Strong”

10/5/2015

We talk a lot about “Farm Strong” values here on our Farm Fresh blog -- about the hard-working character and perseverance of Iowa farmers, who overcome the weather, the markets or whatever challenges...

Don’t hold your breath

10/1/2015

Here’s a question that should take your breath away: do Americans find Kim Kardashian more believable than Albert Einstein?If you spend time checking out blogs or recent headlines, it seems Americans...

Growing tomatoes and a toddler

9/30/2015

The calendar officially says it’s fall, combines are slowly starting to roll out into the fields, and football season has started; I think it’s safe to say autumn is upon us.At our place, we’re probably...

Remembering 1985 and the roots of ANF

9/16/2015

Coach Hayden FryThe year was 1985: Madonna was topping the charts; high school angst filled the Big Screen with ‘The Breakfast Club’; and Americans got their first glimpse of mobile phones in the hit...

30 reasons America Needs Farmers (ANF)

9/15/2015

You haven’t heard the whole story behind the “ANF” on Iowa’s football helmets.Yes, you may know that legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry created ANF (America Needs Farmers) in the midst of the 1980s Farm...

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