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U.S. Supreme Court rejects request by Iowa and other states challenging California’s ban on eggs from chickens kept in small cages

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by Iowa and 12 other states to fast-track their lawsuit against the state of California. The suit claims a 2008 California law that prohibits the sale of eggs from hens kept […]

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Letter to the editor: The new farm bill does little to protect the future of agriculture

In an uncharacteristically productive event, Congress has passed the farm bill, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. Ruminant commentators are asking: What’s missing in the farm bill? Their answers demonstrate that it pays little or no attention to preserving the environment where agriculture lives.
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Many small Iowa farms are squeezed out of the government’s family farm designation

By Molly Hunter, IowaWatch Small family-run farms that raise organically, without genetically modifying crops or by reducing their use of pesticides and antibiotics, are such a small part of the U.S. government’s definition of a family farm that they often […]

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Letter to the editor: Too many hogs, too much corporate greed

Two thousand four hundred ninety-nine. That is the magic maximum number of hogs allowed to construct a new confined animal feeding operation (CAFO, or factory farm) in Iowa without notifying local or county officials or adhering to state government regulations. Only a cursory review and approval by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and filing a plan for manure management with the county auditor, are required. There are no minimum requirements for acreage or distance from residences, schools, parks and sources of water unless the CAFO contains 2,500 hogs or more. […]

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SILT, Awful Purdies collaborate on music video to raise awareness of loss of farmland

With the release of a music video to the song “Common Ground” by the Awful Purdies, the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) is hoping to raise awareness about the ongoing loss of Iowa farmland to development and the challenges facing new farmers — and showcase the SILT’s effort to protect the land and support a new farming generation. […]

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‘Good Apples’ details the curious history of apples and challenges facing farmers

Author and Iowa City resident Susan Futrell starts out her book ‘Good Apples: Behind Every Bite’ with the auction of the oldest commercial apple orchard in Iowa: an orchard outside Fort Madison that had been in the same family for five generations, but now faced an uncertain future dependent upon the winning bidder. It’s a fitting place to start a book about the long history of apples in the United States and the uncertain future the apple industry faces in a global economy.
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Iowa’s dwindling bee population is part of a larger, frightening trend

Deep in the belly of the Vermeer Science Center at Central College in Pella, Iowa, cardboard boxes are stacked against the wall in a dimly lit laboratory. The boxes contain thousands of bees — carefully preserved and meticulously categorized based on their Latin genus and species — each with a unique tale to tell. Some are as small as a gnat; others are the size of a cockroach. Their colors span the spectrum, too, from rich, reflective blues to the familiar striped yellow and black of the common honey bee. Paulina Mena, an associate professor of biology, is their veritable warden. […]

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