Two More Farms Test Positive for Bird Flu

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two more Iowa farms have tested positive for bird flu. The Iowa Department of Agriculture says two northwest Iowa farms raising young chickens to eventually lay eggs likely have the virus. No estimate of numbers was immediately released for a farm in Sioux County, the 12th case in that county and one in Plymouth County, the first case there. Iowa has 52 bird flu cases in 14 counties. Nearly 25 million chickens and 970,000 turkeys will die. Continue Reading

Equine Herpesvirus Confirmed in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A virus known for attacking a horse’s nervous system has been confirmed at a stable in Iowa’s Warren County. The Iowa Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that the stable has several confirmed cases of a neurological disease associated with Equine Herpesvirus infections. Officials say the disease poses no threat to humans. The disease was detected at the Warren County stable when horses began to show symptoms including fever, decreased coordination, lethargy and inability to rise. A news release says the horses are being monitored and aren’t permitted to leave the stable. Continue Reading

Mice Could Be Spreading Bird Flu

A team of wildlife biologists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be trapping and testing small mammals and birds in Iowa for avian influenza over the next couple of weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no confirmed cases of avian flu in mammals. But, USDA epidemiologist Dr. Brian McCluskey says small rodents could still play a role in the spread of the virus. “There’s actually evidence in the scientific literature that mice and other small rodents can actually carry the virus. Maybe not as a biological vector, but as a mechanical one, so the virus may be drug in on the animal itself,” McCluskey says. Continue Reading

Corn and Soybean Crop Expected to Be Smaller This Year

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The government says farmers are expected to grow 13.6 billion bushels of corn this year, about 4 percent less than last year’s record crop. The estimate released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture assumes an average per-acre yield of nearly 167 bushels an acre, down from last year’s record 171 bushels. Soybean farmers are expected to grow nearly 3.85 billion bushels, down 3 percent from last year’s record crop. The soybean per-acre yield is projected at 46 bushels per acre, down 1.8 bushels from last year’s record. The USDA says farmers have started well this growing season with 75 percent of the corn crop planted, ahead of the five-year average of 57 percent. Continue Reading

Bird Flu Feared on Four More Farms

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Four more Iowa farms are testing positive for bird flu. The Iowa Department of Agriculture says an egg-laying farm and a turkey farm in Buena Vista County bring to 15 the number of cases in that county in northwest Iowa. A broiler farm in Osceola County is the state’s first indication of the disease on a farm raising chickens for meat. Officials said Tuesday the farm has 700 birds. Most of Iowa’s affected chickens are egg layers. Continue Reading

Speed Camera Requests Rejected by Iowa DOT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s transportation department has rejected requests by officials in four cities to keep operating some speed cameras in their areas. The state Department of Transportation issued the denials in letters dated Monday to officials in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Muscatine. A letter to Council Bluffs was dated May 6. DOT Director Paul Trombino says in the letters the cameras are not making interstate highways or nearby intersections safer. The DOT decided in late 2013 that speed cameras on or adjacent to state highways should not be used as long-term enforcement tools and required more justification for their use. Continue Reading

Governor Branstad Assesses Tornado Damage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad is heading to Calhoun County to assess tornado damage. Branstad said Monday that he was going to the region to see how cleanup was going. On Sunday night a tornado tore the roof from a high school in Lake City as about 150 students, family and faculty attended an awards ceremony. Branstad said no one was hurt, but the state has been working to clear debris from roads and clean up other damage. Branstad said the state was ready to help the community in any way necessary. Continue Reading

Budget Haggling Continues in Statehouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Budget haggling continues in the Iowa Legislature, as lawmakers seek a compromise financial deal for the next fiscal year. Leaders in the Republican-led House and Democratic-majority Senate were working to resolve their differences Monday. The two sides must agree on an overall spending level and how much new money to provide for K-12 education. A compromise could include an increase in basic aid for K-12 schools, plus a one-time payment. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat, says he would “love to get done” with the budget this week, which would mean they could adjourn. Continue Reading

Ernst Plans Retirement from National Guard

First-term Republican Senator Joni Ernst is pondering retirement — from the Iowa National Guard. “This will be breaking news, probably, to my chain of command,” Ernst said. Ernst made the announcement Friday during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that aired Friday on Iowa Public Television. Ernst says it’s been “very hard” to balance her work as a senator, her obligation to the Guard and her desire to spend time with her husband and teenage daughter. “I had drill last weekend, so spent a day on the road visiting a number of counties on Friday. Continue Reading