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.




Up-and-coming agriculture leaders forecast a bright future


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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!


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

Young farmers engage in ‘food fight’ to beat hunger


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?


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

Iowa: A nationally-recognized pioneer in rural entrepreneurship


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


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

Bringing physicians to rural Iowa


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


“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


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


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


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


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

Virtual tours help farmers host far-flung visitors


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)


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


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”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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”?


“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


 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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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”


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


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


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


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)


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...

Take a tasty bite out of fall at Iowa’s apple orchards


Last week, I swung by Center Grove Orchard near Cambridge to buy the first honeycrisp apples of the season. Each year I visit the orchard, I can’t believe all the new additions to this popular agritourism...

Like Des Moines Water Works, I’m prematurely giving up on my two-year-old


It’s time to radically alter the course of my daughter’s education.Yes, she’s meeting and exceeding many milestones people associate with two-year-olds, she’s a good big sister to her five-month-old brother,...

Harvest safety tips for farmers and city folks alike


It’s that time of year when students are back in the classroom and Iowa farmers are gearing up to harvest a record-large corn crop this fall.Yet in the rush to get the kids to football games and marching...

Back-to-School: 6 Great Ways to Make Learning Real with Agriculture!


It’s that time of year again. Kids and teachers are heading back to school. Some may be dreading it, but the majority of them are excited to be back with their friends and may even like the normalcy of...

A century or more of caring for land and livestock


This week, 366 families from around the state are being recognized as recipients of the Century Farm designation at the Iowa State Fair. The designation recognizes families who have had a farm in the...

Des Moines "city girl" experiences farm, dispels myths


Me (Cassidy) standing in front of the new cow barn recently opened in Amana Farms. The cows seemed very interested in me taking photos of them that day.Most of my life I didn’t know the first thing about...

Sorry Gwyneth, but I’ll leave nutritional advice to the experts


Photo by AP.My Twitter feed lit up this week with breathless news that actress Gwyneth Paltrow was speaking out against genetically modified foods (GMOs) and for a campaign to force food companies to...

Is that GMO label really necessary?


I’m an avid food label reader. When I’m shopping at the grocery store, I stop to look at the nutrition facts before I buy a food that’s new to me, and I check out the produce labels to see where the blueberries...

Viewing Iowa’s conservation progress from a bicycle seat


OK, I survived my first RAGBRAI. Last year I rode a few days, but this year I pedaled the entire route, some 462 miles from the Missouri River at Sioux City to the Mississippi River at Davenport. My leg...

Ditch the fear to eat (and live) healthy


After years of ignoring doctors’ warnings, I finally agreed last month to start taking medication for high blood pressure.In my case, high blood pressure is genetic. My dad was in his 20s when he was...

Farming is really easy, at least in a video game


  Last week I climbed the stairs in our suburban Des Moines home to the sound of an idling tractor. I found out my husband had purchased a farming simulation game and was deciding which seeds to plant...

Celebrating our independence


Have a happy and safe Independence Day from the Iowa Farm Bureau! Market sheep contestants share tips at the Butler County Fair. Photo by Gary Fandel.

Teaching about nutrition and connecting to the farm


There’s a certainly a bumper crop of misinformation floating around in social media about food safety, healthy eating and modern farming practices. And I recently got to talk with folks who see it first-hand:...

Looking beyond the surface to fully understand Iowa’s water quality


The recent flooding around the state is a reminder of the importance of water quality to all of us, whether you live in the heart of a city or call rural Iowa home.  Our families like to fish, swim, and...

Kleckner’s work helped make U.S. agriculture a global power


“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo EmersonIt seems as though...

Help Food Bank of Iowa win the Great American Milk Drive ($10,000 in milk) with a couple clicks


I’ve written before on the Farm Fresh blog about the tour I took last fall of the Hawkeye Harvest Food Pantry in Mason City.It was an eye-opening experience, in so many ways. But what struck me the most...