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Iowa News Analysis: Flooding and Farming, New Bills Signed by Gov. Culver

posted on May 6, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Host Paul Yeager and David Pitt of the Associated Press discuss flooding in Iowa and its impact on planting crops, and the impact of Governor Culver signing bills that increase the oversight of students loans and regulate the Veterans' Trust Fund.

Paul Yeager: David Pitt is with the Associated Press and David is always welcome. So, let's talk about this corn and bean planting season. We're not even talking about beans in the ground. But what are we finding out or hearing about the economic impacts of such a late harvest? It's already the first couple of days in May.

David Pitt: Right. Well, obviously we're several weeks behind and it does make people a bit nervous. I think the impact may be some of the anecdotal stories we're hearing is that the farmers may be deciding to plant soybeans instead of corn and already they had estimated in the early estimates that corn acreages would be down a bit. Obviously that is a concern for folks in the ethanol industry and really food industry and everywhere now.

It's a concern across the board. If we see corn acreages drop too far, you know, corn prices are still high so farmers may be just kind of weighing, okay, shall I put corn in or put soybeans in? Look at the weather, look at the prices for both commodities and, of course, the input prices for corn, the price of fertilizer, which is kind of tied to some other things in the economy, that's pretty high. So, the input costs for corn are high. It makes it kind of a little bit less of a profit margin for corn farmers. So, they have a lot of things to think about before they decide what to put in the ground.

Yeager: And they're always worried about the weather that is always the angst time for them. But the weather has been -- we showed Anamosa there along the Wapsipinicon that was near the Waterloo area from Denver down to Independence. Littleton had seen a lot of that rain and that all filtered down now headed towards the Mississippi. We've seen Muscatine, Burlington, Gladstone, Keokuk and those areas, are they just getting the rest of the water from everybody else or are they wet as well down there?

Pitt: That's part of it. I think the good news is I checked this morning just to kind of see where the peak levels were. It looks like we're kind of on the downward slide. The worst perhaps has happened although it will stay high for a few days before it really starts subsiding. And the wet fields are going to be wet, obviously, for a while. But it looks like there is another storm system, not to play weatherman here, but from what it looks like there may be some more weather systems moving in that will hit eastern Iowa so that might compound it a bit.

Yeager: So, finally a couple of days for farmers to get in the fields and try to get something done. And a very intense time, a lot of people they're going to see more tractors on the roads and things like that. Let's talk about the Governor. The legislative session is done but it's now more of a -- he did a tour, last week he went to Cedar Rapids but he was also signing bills when looking at flood damage. What is he signing today? And what does his schedule look like for the rest of the week?

Pitt: Well, it looks like he's continuing that tour, that's kind of the post-legislative session this is what we accomplished tour. But he's also making some stops around the state to sign several bills. Today he signed the bill that involves student loans. It kind of raises the oversight of student loans in Iowa, brings it up to a level of some federal laws and it also, in addition to that oversight, requires financial aid people on college campuses to give students options, tell them what their options are for loans, the different options they have.

And then the other bill was the veteran's bills, they were three separate pieces of legislation. And one kind of regulates the veteran's trust fund and expands on the number of things that money can be used for and also veteran's affairs offices in the counties must now maintain certain hours and there is some training that goes into that. So, those kinds of things.

Yeager: There was some consideration that the veteran's were some of the best taken care of group in this legislative session. It appears that these bills are that case.

Pitt: Three pieces of legislation signed today.

Yeager: What are the other bills looking like tomorrow and the rest of the week?

Pitt: The rest of the week he has bill signings. Tuesday the local option schools tax, this is the statewide tax instead of county by county. We talked about that on the show before. And then you'll also be going to Algona to the hydrogen engine center to sign a bill that has some issues involving energy efficiency in the state. So, that bill will be signed it looks like Tuesday. And then Friday he'll sign the bill that borrows about $130 million to build a new prison in Fort Madison and then there's some other money for corrections institutions as well and that's Friday.

Yeager: That's Friday. Is he going to do that in Fort Madison?

Pitt: I'm not sure; well he probably has a place where it's going to be signed. I just know it's going to be signed somewhere on Friday.

Yeager: We'll see if it's a bigger deal or not. We'll have a better idea on Thursday. David Pitt of the Associated Press, thank you as always for coming in tonight.


Tags: agriculture Chet Culver crops education governors Iowa news students veterans