Readers Respond

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Plug in local utilities

From NANCY BARR / Storm Lake

I really think the city of Storm Lake should look into getting their own cable and telephone company.

Why let other big companies dictate what we can and cannot do or what channels we can get - like the Big 10 Network.

It works in other towns, why not here? Alta is a good example!

Grateful Citizen


Thank you!

I have been receiving congratulations through the mail and in person from both friends and people I had never met before and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at the Pilot Tribune for choosing me as Citizen of the Year. It's a great honor for me and I'm grateful and feel blessed to live in such a wonderful community. I never expected that the volunteer work I've done through the years in Storm Lake and in the state of Iowa would be rewarded at all and never even dreamed that I would receive such an honor. I'm very proud to be a part of the Storm Lake community. Thank you very much for your support!

Ag opportunity in '08

From BILL NORTHEY / Spirit Lake

Farmer and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Agriculture in 2007 experienced nearly unprecedented success. Large corn and soybean yields in conjunction with good prices resulted in strong farm incomes across the state. Good prices were also available for much of the year to dairy farmers and egg producers and those who raised beef, pork, turkey and other livestock.

And, the outlook for 2008 remains bright. Demand for our agricultural products remains strong.

A new Energy Bill was recently signed into law that will ensure continued increasing demand for ethanol and biodiesel. This will help keep the price for our corn and beans strong by giving Iowa crop farmers markets for their crops. International markets continue to buy our agricultural products as well, which is helping to keep prices up even as production grows. At the same time, Buy Local campaigns are driving demand for food products that are grown close to where they are consumed.

As a result, young people are excited about agriculture again. Agriculture programs at Iowa State University and at our community colleges have seen significant growth.

There is a newfound optimism around agriculture that we haven't experienced in decades.

Challenges remain, though. With profitability returning to agriculture, there have been dramatic increases in land prices and in the amount of rent farmers are paying. There are questions about how young people break into farming with the high startup costs they now face. People worry that this is a repeat of the boom times in the 1970s that led to the farm crisis in the 1980s.

However, the opportunities I see in agriculture are real. The ethanol plants that have been built are not going to disappear over night, especially in this era of $100 per barrel oil. The emerging international markets that have helped drive demand for our agriculture exports are not going away.

I think it's important that we recognize the opportunities that are available on the farm and in our small rural communities right now and appreciate the role agriculture is playing in this revitalization of some rural areas.

As Iowa Secretary of Agriculture I'm trying to do what I can to encourage Iowans to make sure we take full advantage of these opportunities.

In 2008 I'll be visiting each of Iowa's 99 counties again to hear from folks who are on the ground and making these things happen and I will be trying to share this exciting story of agriculture fueling dynamic growth in our state.

So, let's continue to work together to make sure 2008 is even more successful for Iowans than 2007.