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Iowa Press #2743 - Patty Judge
June 25, 2000

Newell: LOCALLY, DROUGHT CONDITIONS CONTINUE ACROSS MUCH OF IOWA AND, NATIONALLY, THE ETHANOL-BASHING CONTINUES. WE'LL GET A STATUS REPORT ON BOTH FRONTS FROM IOWA SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, PATTY JUDGE, ON THIS EDITION OF IOWA PRESS.

FUNDING FOR IOWA PRESS WAS PROVIDED BY FRIENDS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

THIS IS THE SUNDAY, JUNE 25TH EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS MIKE NEWELL.

Newell: IOWA FARMERS ARE TAKING SOME HITS FROM SEVERAL DIRECTIONS THESE DAYS. ACROSS THE UPPER MIDWEST, GASOLINE PRICES ARE ON THE RISE, HITTING RECORD LEVELS IN SOME LOCATIONS. OIL COMPANY EXECUTIVES ARE POINTING A FINGER AT ETHANOL MANDATES, SAYING THE CORN-BASED ADDITIVE IS AT THE ROOT OF SKYROCKETING GAS PRICES. THAT'S OF CONCERN TO IOWA CORN GROWERS, OF COURSE, ENVIRONMENTALISTS AS WELL. THAT WILL BE THE CASE UNTIL PRICES DROP OR UNTIL FEDERAL INVESTIGATIONS TURN UP ANOTHER CULPRIT. ON THE WEATHER FRONT, RECENT RAINS AND AN EARLY START TO THE SPRING PLANTING SEASON ARE PAYING OFF. THE LATEST REPORTS INDICATE THAT UPWARDS TO 75 PERCENT OF IOWA'S CROPS ARE RATED GOOD-TO-EXCELLENT, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN THE STATE IS OUT OF THE WOODS JUST YET. IN MANY LOCATIONS, PRECIPITATION IS HALF OF WHAT SHOULD BE; WATER LEVELS ARE REPORTED TO BE DANGEROUSLY LOW. THOSE AND OTHER ISSUES ARE ON THE TABLE FOR PATTY JUDGE, NOW IN HER FIRST TERM AS IOWA'S SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE. SECRETARY JUDGE, WE WELCOME YOU ONCE AGAIN TO IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

Judge: GOOD MORNING.

Newell: GOOD TO HAVE YOU ON BOARD.

Judge: THANK YOU.

Newell: ALSO WITH US AT THE IOWA PRESS TABLE ARE IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTERS KATHIE OBRADOVICH OF THE LEE NEWSPAPERS AND KAY HENDERSON OF RADIO IOWA.

Henderson: SECRETARY JUDGE, ETHANOL IS SORT OF A PUNCHING BAG OF BIG OIL THESE DAYS. WHY AREN'T PROPONENTS OF ETHANOL MORE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS PUBLIC RELATIONS BATTLE?

Judge: BOY, I DON'T KNOW AND IT SURE SEEMS A SHAME THAT BIG OIL HAS TAKEN ANOTHER HIT AT ETHANOL. IT'S HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHY ETHANOL IS GETTING BLAMED FOR WHAT IS OBVIOUSLY, TO ME ANYWAY, A CASE OF THEIR DECISION TO RAISE PRICES. A REPORT I READ YESTERDAY SAID THAT THEIR PROFITS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THIS YEAR ARE UP 500 PERCENT, SO I THINK THEY'RE NOT BEING HURT TOO BAD.

Henderson: I KNOW THAT YOU SUPPORT THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION INVESTIGATION OF THE BIG OIL INDUSTRY REGARDING PRICE INCREASES. WHY NOT ASK ATTORNEY GENERAL TOM MILLER TO INTERVENE? HE INTERVENED IN REGARDS TO MICROSOFT.

Judge: RIGHT, AND I THINK THAT'S APPROPRIATE, AND I THINK WE WILL GET THERE. I DID TAKE AN OPPORTUNITY YESTERDAY TO CONTACT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION AND LEND THE SUPPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND LAND STEWARDSHIP TO THE INVESTIGATION THAT WAS RECENTLY BEGUN. I DO THINK IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT IOWA ALSO LOOKS AT WHAT'S GOING ON, AND I'M SURE WE'LL BE LOOKING AT THAT, ALSO, NEXT WEEK.

Obradovich: EVEN IF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION DOES COME UP WITH SOME EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING ON THE PART OF THE OIL COMPANIES, WHAT DO YOU THINK CAN BE DONE ABOUT THAT?

Judge: WELL, I WOULD HOPE THAT IF THEIR INVESTIGATION SHOWS THAT THERE IS PRICE FIXING COLLUSION THAT THERE ARE STEPS THAT THEY CAN TAKE AND PENALTIES THEY CAN IMPOSE ON THE OIL COMPANIES. I THINK IT'S REAL INTERESTING THAT SINCE THE DISCUSSION STARTED, THE PRICE OF GASOLINE HAS BEEN DROPPING. I HEARD THIS MORNING ON THE WAY OUT HERE THAT THE PRICE DROPPED 17 CENTS YESTERDAY IN CHICAGO, SO LET'S KEEP THE HEAT ON THEM. LET'S KEEP AFTER THEM AND FIGURE OUT WHAT'S GOING ON HERE.

Obradovich: WELL, LET'S TALK AGAIN ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT THIS IS HAVING ON ETHANOL, THOUGH. YOU HAVE VOICED SUPPORT FOR A STATEWIDE REQUIREMENT THAT ALL GAS STATIONS IN THE STATE SELL ETHANOL. DO YOU STILL THINK THAT A KIND OF MANDATE LIKE THAT IS WISE, GIVEN THE FACT THAT ETHANOL IS RIGHT NOW, KIND OF, FIGHTING BACK FOR ITS IMAGE?

Judge: WELL, I DO NOT BELIEVE FOR A MOMENT THAT ETHANOL IS THE CAUSE OF THE RISE OF THE PRICE AT THE GASOLINE PUMPS. THAT DOESN'T MAKE ANY LOGICAL SENSE WHEN YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO CREATE A GALLON OF ETHANOL WHEN YOU KNOW HOW MUCH A GALLON OF UNLEADED GASOLINE IS. THE ETHANOL IS CHEAPER THAN THE UNLEADED GASOLINE. SO IF YOU BLEND THE TWO OF THEM, HOW YOU CAN COME OUT WITH SOMETHING THAT'S MORE EXPENSIVE IS KIND OF MIND-BOGGLING, AND IT ISN'T THE MATH THAT I LEARNED TO DO. ETHANOL IS GOOD FUEL. IF THE FEDERAL EPA REQUIREMENT TO REMOVE MTBE FROM GASOLINE ACROSS THE UNITED STATES GOES IN EFFECT AND THE RENEWABLE FUEL PROVISION AND CLEAN AIR ACT STAYS IN PLACE, THAT'S A TREMENDOUS MARKET OPPORTUNITY FOR ETHANOL TO REPLACE MTBE IN GASOLINE. I HATE TO SEE THAT BLOWN AWAY FROM US, BECAUSE THAT'S SO GOOD FOR IOWA, SO GOOD FOR CORN PRODUCERS. IT IS 10 PERCENT -- ROUGHLY 10 PERCENT OF THE MARKET SHARE OF THE OIL COMPANIES. WHILE THAT MAY SEEM -- WELL, 10 PERCENT IS RATHER INSIGNIFICANT WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT BOTTOM LINES, 10 PERCENT IS A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER.

Henderson: SPEAKING OF BOTTOM LINES, AS SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, CAN YOU GIVE US SOME SENSE OF HOW GAS PRICES ARE GOING TO BE AFFECTING FARMERS' BOTTOM LINE IN REGARDS TO TRAIPSING ACROSS THE FIELD IN COMBINES AND DISCS?

Judge: THE GOOD NEWS IS, OF COURSE, THAT THE PLANTING SEASON IS OVER BEFORE THE TREMENDOUS RISE IN PRICES. THE BAD NEWS IS THAT PEOPLE ARE IN HAY FIELDS NOW, SO THEY ARE BURNING PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. IF WE CAN'T GET THE PRICES DOWN AND STABILIZED BY HARVESTTIME, IT CERTAINLY WOULD BE A TREMENDOUS NEGATIVE IMPACT TO THE BOTTOM LINES FOR IOWA FARMERS, EVEN TO THE POINT OF LP FOR GRAIN DRIERS AND OTHER ENTERPRISES THAT ARE HEAVY FUEL USERS. BUT BEYOND AGRICULTURE, YOU KNOW, THAT PRICE -- IF WE GO INTO WINTER WITH THESE HIGH PRICES, LP AND SO FORTH WILL JUST BE OUT OF SIGHT FOR PEOPLE FOR HOME USE.

Obradovich: IS THERE ANYTHING THE STATE CAN DO ABOUT THAT, IN THE FUEL IMPACT PERFORMANCE --

Judge: I THINK WE HAVE TO STAY ON IT AND WE HAVE TO KEEP LOOKING FOR OPTIONS. THIS IS JUST TOO IMPORTANT TO PEOPLE'S POCKETBOOKS FOR US TO BE SILENT. THAT'S WHY I STARTED THE ACTION I DID YESTERDAY. I THINK THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO LOOK AT OTHER OPTIONS ALSO. WHATEVER THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CAN DO TO ASSIST IN THAT, WE CERTAINLY WILL.

Henderson: OTHER STATES HAVE DECIDED TO LIFT THE STATE GAS TAX DURING THIS EXTRAORDINARY PERIOD. IS IT TIME FOR IOWA TO DO THAT?

Judge: I THINK IT'S TIME TO LOOK AT THAT AS AN OPTION. I DON'T KNOW IF THAT'S THE BEST -- YOU KNOW, I'M KIND OF OUT OF THE BUDGET BUSINESS NOW OF THE BIG PICTURE BUDGET, SO I THINK THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATURE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT WE CAN DO THAT AND WHETHER OR NOT THAT'S SOMETHING THAT THE STATE TREASURY CAN STAND. IF THEY DECIDE THAT, THEN THAT'S PROBABLY APPROPRIATE; HOWEVER, I DON'T WANT TO TAKE THE OIL COMPANIES OFF THE HOOK. I DON'T WANT THE CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF IOWA TO HAVE TO SUFFER WHILE THE OIL COMPANIES CONTINUE TO MAKE THAT KIND OF PROFIT. I WANT THEM TO STAY -- I WANT TO KEEP GOING WITH THIS INVESTIGATION.

Obradovich: THE WEATHER HAS BEEN FAIRLY NICE HERE IN CENTRAL IOWA THE PAST FEW WEEKS BUT, APPARENTLY, SOME PARTS OF THE STATE ARE STILL IN TROUBLE. WHAT'S THE STATUS AS FAR AS DROUGHT IS CONCERNED?

Judge: THERE ARE PARTS OF THE STATE THAT ARE STILL DRY. THIS IS A VERY SPOTTY CONDITION. UP IN THE NORTHEAST PART OF THE STATE, THERE'S A LOT OF WATER. YET IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE STATE, THERE ARE STILL SOME VERY DRY CONDITIONS. OVERALL THE CROPS ARE NOT LOOKING TOO BAD, BUT SUBSOIL MOISTURE IS STILL BELOW NORMAL. I'VE BEEN IN SOUTHERN -- OF COURSE, YOU KNOW I'VE LIVED IN SOUTHERN IOWA. I'VE BEEN DOWN THERE OFF AND ON ALL SUMMER. PONDS ARE VERY LOW. HAY CONDITIONS ARE NOT -- HAVE NOT BEEN GOOD IN AREAS WHERE THERE IS USUALLY PLENTIFUL HAY. THAT IS NOT GOING TO WORK VERY WELL AS, AGAIN, WE THINK ABOUT LONG TERM, WE THINK ABOUT FEED FOR WINTER. WE COULD END UP BEING SHORT.

Obradovich: A LOT OF THE CATTLE INDUSTRY, OF COURSE, IS LOCATED IN THAT PART OF THE STATE, AND WE'VE BEEN HEARING, SORT OF, ANECDOTAL REPORTS THAT CATTLEMEN ARE CULLING THEIR HERDS AT THIS POINT, CUTTING OUT THE WEAK ANIMALS. IS THERE GOING TO BE A LONG-TERM IMPACT ON THE CATTLE INDUSTRY IN THE STATE BECAUSE OF THIS?

Judge: WE CERTAINLY HOPE NOT. WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE COW NUMBERS BUILD, PARTICULARLY IN THAT PART OF THE STATE WHERE THAT'S A GOOD ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND BUSINESS FOR IOWA FARMERS. BUT SOMETIMES WHEN THE WEATHER CONDITIONS DICTATE THAT THAT IS THE PRACTICE -- THAT LONGSTANDING PRACTICE OF CATTLEMEN, WHEN YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO FEED THE CATTLE, WE SELL THEM. I HAD WRITTEN TO SECRETARY GLICKMAN AND ASKED FOR RELEASE OF CRP GROUND FOR HAY AND GRAZING IN THAT AREA OF THE STATE.

Obradovich: THAT'S CONSERVATION SET-ASIDE ACRES.

Judge: THAT'S RIGHT. I'M SORRY.

Obradovich: THAT'S OKAY.

Judge: AND THEY WERE ABLE TO RELEASE SOME OF THE COUNTIES. ON A COUNTY-BY-COUNTY BASIS, THEY RELEASED SOME COUNTIES FOR GRAZING. THEY HAVE NOT RELEASED ANY COUNTIES FOR HAYING. I DID SEND A SECOND LETTER LAST WEEK ASKING THEM TO PLEASE RECONSIDER AND LET US START SOME HAYING DOWN THERE SO WE CAN CREATE SOME FEED FOR WINTER.

Obradovich: WHAT IS THE RELUCTANCE TO OPEN THAT TERRITORY FOR HAYING?

Judge: THERE IS, OF COURSE, A HABITAT QUESTION. THERE IS -- A LOT OF THAT WAS PUT IN FOR -- IT IS CONSERVATION GROUND AND IT IS NESTING AREAS, AND THERE'S A RELUCTANCE TO GO IN AND HAY WHEN WE STILL HAVE BIRDS NESTING. AND I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE THAT, BUT SOMETIMES, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU GET DOWN TO THE BOTTOM LINE, CAN WE KEEP -- HANG ONTO A CATTLE HERD OR NOT. THEN WE HAVE TO ADJUST THE RULES.

Henderson: A RELATED RULE REQUIRES FARMERS TO, SORT OF, FENCE OFF ANY POND OR CRICK, THEY THEM DOWN THERE -- I THINK THEY CALL THEM CRICKS -- SO THAT THE CATTLE CANNOT USE THAT WATER SOURCE, AND FARMERS ARE STARTING TO AGITATE FOR SOME FORGIVENESS ON THOSE RULES. WHAT'S THE PROGRESS ON THAT?

Judge: AGAIN, WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE THAT RULE RELAXED. IT'S VERY DIFFICULT WHEN YOU'RE RUNNING OUT OF WATER AND YOU'VE GOT WATER, NOT TO USE IT. SO WE HAVE ASKED FOR THAT. AGAIN, I HAVE NOT RECEIVED A RESPONSE FROM WASHINGTON ON THAT. SO I GUESS NEXT WEEK IS ANOTHER WEEK TO GO AT THAT ONE AGAIN.

Henderson: ON A RELATED WATER ISSUE, MANY FARMERS SAY IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE TO HOOK UP TO THOSE RURAL WATER SYSTEMS THAT ARE BEING LAID THROUGHOUT THE STATE. IS THERE A METHOD BY WHICH STATE MONEY MIGHT BE AVAILABLE TO HELP FARMERS DEFRAY SOME OF THE COSTS OF HOOKING UP TO RURAL WATER?

Judge: I DON'T KNOW IF THERE IS. RURAL WATER IS PROBABLY PROHIBITIVELY EXPENSIVE FOR LIVESTOCK, AT LEAST FOR THE CATTLE INDUSTRY. HAVING BEEN IN THE CATTLE INDUSTRY FOR A LONG TIME AND ALSO BEING A USER OF RURAL WATER, I WOULD HATE TO THINK OF THAT. I'M NOT SURE THAT THAT'S THE MOST ECONOMICAL METHOD OF TAKING CARE OF THAT ISSUE EITHER. I THINK PROBABLY MORE AVAILABILITY, MORE POND, SO FORTH, WOULD BE A CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE.

Obradovich: EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE POCKETS OF SEVERE NEED THROUGHOUT THE STATE, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT DROUGHT COULD ACTUALLY BE GOOD FOR THE IOWA FARM ECONOMY? COULD IT IMPACT PRICES FOR THOSE MAJORITY OF FARMERS IN THE STATE RIGHT NOW WHO HAVE A GOOD PROSPECT FOR CROPS, AND COULD FEDERAL SUBSIDIES AND EMERGENCY PAYMENTS ACTUALLY BOLSTER THE FARM ECONOMY IN IOWA?

Judge: WELL, I DON'T KNOW IF THE DROUGHT HERE IN THE AREAS OF THE STATE THAT WE HAVE THE DRY CONDITIONS WILL HAVE A TREMENDOUS IMPACT BECAUSE, AGAIN, I WAS IN NORTH CENTRAL IOWA AND NORTHEAST IOWA LAST WEEK AND THE CROPS LOOKED BEAUTIFUL. OF COURSE, SOUTHERN IOWA IS NOT EXACTLY THE HEART OF THE GRAIN INDUSTRY. I DON'T KNOW -- YOU KNOW, THE WHOLE ISSUE OF FEDERAL EMERGENCY PAYMENTS IS, AS A METHOD OF STABILIZING AGRICULTURE, IS SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO TAKE A GOOD, HARD LOOK AT, AND MAYBE THIS YEAR THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN. I THINK WE'VE ALREADY HAD AN APPROVAL OF SOME MONEY, BUT I THINK IT'S TIME TO LOOK AT THE FARM BILL AND SEE WHAT WE CAN DO TO BRING SOME LONG-TERM STABILITY TOO.

Newell: SECRETARY JUDGE, THIS WEEKEND THE GOVERNOR'S STRATEGIC PLANNING COUNCIL, THE IOWA 2010 PROJECT, IS DELIVERING ITS REPORT. ON BEHALF OF RURAL IOWANS, ON BEHALF OF FARMLAND IOWA, WHAT SHOULD BE IN THAT REPORT IF YOU WERE DOING THE WRITING OF IT?

Judge: WELL, I GOT A LITTLE PEEK AT THE REPORT, AND I THOUGHT THAT ON THE FARM SECTION, THEY REALLY DID A VERY GOOD JOB OVERALL. THAT TALKED ABOUT SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT I'M SEEING AND SOME OF THE NEEDS THAT WE HAVE IN IOWA. I THINK THAT WE NEED TO REALLY FOCUS IN IOWA ON ADDING VALUE TO IOWA AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS, AND THEY TALKED ABOUT THAT. I KNOW THAT'S THE DRUM I'VE BEEN BEATING, BUT I'M GOING TO KEEP BEATING IT. I THINK WE NEED TO DO MORE AG DIVERSIFICATION, BUILD IN SOME NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND MOVE -- WE DON'T NEED TO ABANDON OUR LONG-STANDING PLACE IN THE COMMODITY WORLD, BUT WE NEED TO GO BEYOND THAT AND HELP FOSTER OPPORTUNITIES IN DIVERSIFIED AGRICULTURE FOR PEOPLE. ORGANICS -- THE ORGANIC INDUSTRY IS A GROWING MARKET FOR US AND ONE THAT WE OUGHT TO PUT MORE EMPHASIS ON. I RECENTLY FORMED A TASK FORCE ON VITICULTURE. THERE USED TO BE A LOT OF GRAPEVINES IN IOWA, AND THEY AREN'T HERE ANYMORE. I WAS CONTACTED BY A COUPLE OF GROWERS ABOUT THAT AND THOUGHT THIS WAS A FASCINATING IDEA. WE HAD A MEETING IN THE LOESS HILLS. WE THOUGHT WE MIGHT HAVE ABOUT 20 PEOPLE; WE HAD A COUPLE HUNDRED PEOPLE SHOW UP. SO THERE IS REAL INTEREST IN DIVERSIFICATION. I THINK THAT THE TASK FORCE REFLECTED THAT, AND THAT'S THE DIRECTION WE NEED TO GO.

Newell: WE'VE HEARD FOR YEARS THE NOTION, THE CONCEPT, OF VALUE-ADDED TO IOWA'S AG PRODUCTS. WHY HASN'T IT HAPPENED TO THIS POINT? A LOT OF LIP SERVICE TO THIS POINT, BUT WE DON'T HAVE VALUE-ADDED BECAUSE EVERYBODY IS HOLLERING WE'VE GOT TO HAVE IT. WHAT HAPPENED?

Judge: WELL, ADDING VALUE IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS, AND IT'S NOT JUST ENOUGH TO ADD VALUE. WE NEED TO CREATE A SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS THE PRODUCERS TO BE PART OF THAT VALUE-ADDED CHAIN. I THINK THERE'S A GROWING RECOGNITION OF THAT. THINGS DON'T HAPPEN REAL QUICKLY, BUT WE ARE STARTING TO SEE PRODUCER GROUPS COME TOGETHER TO BE INVOLVED IN THE VALUE-ADDED INDUSTRY. THE ETHANOL INDUSTRY, AGAIN, IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF A VALUE-ADDED INDUSTRY WHERE PRODUCERS CAN BE LINKED IN. WE HAVE ONE OF THOSE OVER IN THE EASTERN PART OF THE STATE. THERE'S A GROUP IN THE WESTERN PART OF THE STATE THAT'S INTERESTED IN THAT. THE PORK INDUSTRY IS JUST BEGINNING A COOPERATIVE VENTURE WHERE THEY WOULD HAVE PRODUCER BUY-IN TO A FACILITY THAT WOULD BE FROM FARM TO TABLE. THE BEEF PRODUCERS ARE HEADING IN THAT DIRECTION. SO WHILE IT'S NOT FAST, IT IS MOVING; AND IT DEFINITELY IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR IOWA PRODUCERS THAT WASN'T THERE A FEW YEARS AGO.

Newell: ONE FINAL QUESTION ON THE 2010 PROJECT. MUCH OF THE MISSION OF DAVE OMAN, THE CHAIRMAN, AND BETSY BRANDSGARD, THE COCHAIR, WHO WERE WITH US LAST WEEK ON IOWA PRESS, IS TO (A) IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM AND (B) COME UP WITH A SOLUTION TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM. DO YOU SEE THE SOLUTIONS AS BEING PRESENTED BY THE COUNCIL? ARE THEY REALISTIC? CAN THEY HAPPEN? WILL THEY HAPPEN IN TEN YEARS?

Judge: THE ONLY PART OF THE PROGRAM THAT I HAVE ACTUALLY CAREFULLY STUDIED IS THE ISSUE -- THE AGRICULTURAL PLANK. I WAS GIVEN THAT ONE BY THE COUNCIL TO REVIEW, AND I THINK IT'S VERY DOABLE. I'M NOT GOING TO SPEAK FOR THE REST OF IT BECAUSE I HAVEN'T READ THE REST OF IT, BUT I THINK THE PART OF IT THAT PERTAINS TO AGRICULTURE IS VERY DOABLE AND IS A DIRECTION THAT WE NEED TO HEAD AND, IN FACT, IS THE DIRECTION THAT THE GOVERNOR HAS ARTICULATED HE BELIEVES WE SHOULD HEAD.

Newell: KAY?

Henderson: AS A LEGISLATOR, YOU SUPPORTED LOCAL CONTROL FOR THE SITING OF THESE LARGE-SCALE HOG CONFINEMENT FACILITIES. WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR A PERSON WHO DOESN'T WANT ONE OF THESE THINGS PUT IN NEXT DOOR?

Judge: WELL, YOU KNOW, AS A LEGISLATOR, WE STRUGGLED WITH THAT ISSUE FOR YEARS. AND FINALLY, THE IOWA LEGISLATURE DID COME UP WITH A BILL THAT, WHILE IT DOES NOT PROVIDE LOCAL CONTROL, IT DOES GIVE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LOCAL INPUT AND IT CERTAINLY STRENGTHENS ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FROM WHERE WE HAVE BEEN A FEW YEARS AGO. I GUESS, I DON'T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR, WHETHER OR NOT THE ISSUE WILL BE READDRESSED. THERE CERTAINLY IS -- THERE STILL REMAINS CONVERSATION IN THE COUNTRY ABOUT THAT SITUATION, AND PEOPLE STILL ARE DEBATING THE PLACE OF AGRICULTURE IN IOWA. ARE WE -- IS THE COUNTRY STILL GOING TO BE PREDOMINANTLY AGRICULTURAL OR ARE PEOPLE -- ARE WE MORE URBAN SOCIETY AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO ACCEPT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT GO WITH AGRICULTURE. I THINK THE LEGISLATURE PROBABLY IS GOING TO HAVE TO GO AROUND ABOUT THAT ONE AGAIN.

Henderson: RIGHT AFTER YOU WERE INAUGURATED, YOU FORMED A TASK FORCE TO COME UP WITH WAYS TO HELP HOG PRODUCERS WHO, AT THE TIME, WERE GOING THROUGH HISTORICALLY LOW PRICES. YOU'VE CONVENED A TASK FORCE REGARDING -- ENCOURAGING IOWA FARMERS TO GROW MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO CONVENE A TASK FORCE IN REGARDS TO HOG LOT REGULATIONS AND MAYBE BROKER A DEAL UP AT THE STATEHOUSE?

Judge: I DON'T KNOW IF WE'RE AT THAT POINT YET OR NOT. I'M NOT TERRIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE LAW THAT WE HAVE ON THE BOOKS RIGHT NOW. I KNOW THERE ARE CITIZENS THAT FIND IT TROUBLING, BUT I THINK IT HAS WORKED FAIRLY WELL. I REALLY WANTED TO GIVE IT -- AFTER WE SPENT THE TIME AND EFFORT AND BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS ON IT THAT WE DID IN 1998, I THOUGHT WE SHOULD GIVE IT AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEE IF IT WORKS. I THINK THAT WE NEED TO HAVE THE PORK INDUSTRY IN OUR STATE. THAT IS A GOOD INDUSTRY AND THOSE ANIMALS EAT IOWA CORN AND TURN INTO MEAT AND THAT'S GOOD FOR US. WE HAVE TO FIND THAT BALANCE BETWEEN THE INTEREST OF AGRICULTURE AND THE INTERESTS OF MORE URBAN SOCIETY. I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S TIME YET, TRUTHFULLY, KAY, THAT WE NEED TO GET BACK INTO THAT ONE. WE'VE GOT A LOT OF OTHER ISSUES RIGHT NOW IN FRONT OF US, AND I AM REALLY, REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT ANIMAL HEALTH RIGHT NOW. THAT'S WHERE MY FOCUS AND MY EMPHASIS HAS BEEN. WE ARE WORKING VERY HARD TO TRY TO ERADICATE PSEUDO-RABIES IN OUR SWINE HERDS. AND I THINK THAT'S WHERE OUR INTERESTS WILL HAVE TO BE IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS. I CAN ONLY STRETCH THE RESOURCES SO FAR.

Obradovich: IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS, WE'VE SEEN THE STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL REACH A SETTLEMENT WITH A.J. DECOSTER OF DECOSTER FARMS, IN WHICH HE HAS TO PAY $150,000 TO THE STATE AND BE DECLARED A HABITUAL VIOLATOR. HE CAN'T BUILD MORE HOG CONFINEMENTS FOR ANOTHER FIVE YEARS BECAUSE OF MANURE SPILLS IN FACILITIES THAT HE ALREADY HAS. BUT IT TOOK FOUR YEARS OF LAWSUITS TO GET TO THIS POINT, AND THEY STILL CAN'T SHUT DOWN HIS EXISTING FACILITIES. THEY HAVE TO WAIT AND SEE IF HE HAS ANY MORE VIOLATIONS. DO YOU THINK THAT PART OF THE LAW DEALING WITH BAD ACTORS IS ADEQUATE FOR PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT?

Judge: IT IS NOT AS STRONG AS I HAD ADVOCATED WHEN I WAS A STATE SENATOR. I BELIEVE THAT 95 PERCENT OF ALL PORK PRODUCERS IN THIS STATE ARE GOOD CITIZENS AND THEY TRY VERY HARD TO ADHERE TO THE RULES AND THEY'RE GOOD ENVIRONMENTALISTS. YOU'VE ALWAYS GOT THAT ELEMENT THAT CAUSES A PROBLEM, AND I DON'T HAVE MUCH SYMPATHY FOR THEM. IF THEY ARE -- ANYBODY CAN MAKE A MISTAKE AND ANYBODY CAN HAVE AN ACCIDENT. IF YOU ADMIT THAT AND YOU TAKE THE STEPS THAT YOU HAVE TO TAKE TO CORRECT THAT IMMEDIATELY, I THINK WE SHOULD TRY TO WORK WITH FOLKS. BUT PEOPLE THAT BLATANTLY DISREGARD OUR LAWS, AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, WE NEED TO SHUT THEM UP AND GET THEM OUT OF THE STATE.

Obradovich: WELL, DO YOU THINK THIS LAW AS IT'S WRITTEN IS ADEQUATE TO DETER OTHERS FROM TRYING TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE OF IOWA LAW AND --

Judge: I DON'T BELIEVE THAT BY AND LARGE PORK PRODUCERS IN IOWA DO PUSH THE ENVELOPE. MOST OF THEM ARE VERY CONCERNED IOWANS WITH DEEP IOWA ROOTS. LIKE I SAID, WE'VE GOT A FEW BAD ACTORS AND THEY CAN'T FOLLOW OUR RULES AND THEY NEED TO LEAVE THE STATE.

Henderson: THERE IS A COMMISSION -- A NATIONAL COMMISSION ON WHICH YOU'RE WORKING TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM OF HYPOXIA. THERE'S SORT OF A DEAD ZONE IN THE GULF OF MEXICO DUE TO SOME AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF THAT'S COMING DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THAT WORK, AND DO YOU THINK THERE IS A SOLUTION?

Judge: YES, THERE IS A SOLUTION, AND THE STATUS OF THE WORK IS THAT THIS COMMISSION HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR TWO YEARS. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF SCIENTIFIC WORK DONE. THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF MEETINGS AND LOOKING AT THE ISSUE, AND THE ISSUE IS VERY REAL. THERE IS AN AREA IN THE GULF OF MEXICO WHERE THERE IS A LACK OF OXYGEN, AND THAT'S REALLY ATTRIBUTED TO OVERABUNDANCE OF NITROGEN. THE NITROGEN IS FROM VARIOUS PLACES, BOTH SOURCE AND POINT SOURCE AND NONPOINT SOURCE PLACES. THERE WAS A TASK FORCE MEETING IN ST. LOUIS LAST WEEK THAT I ATTENDED. I BECAME CONCERNED BECAUSE -- FOR THE TIME THAT I'VE BEEN SITTING ON THE COMMISSION, NOW, SINCE I'VE BEEN SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE, THE FOCUS HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON REDUCING THE NITROGEN AT THE GULF OF MEXICO. ALL OF A SUDDEN THE EMPHASIS TURNED TO REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF NITROGEN THAT IS FLOWING INTO THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. I THINK THAT MAYBE THAT ISN'T A BAD GOAL, BUT IT'S A GOAL THAT WE BETTER STOP AND THINK ABOUT A LITTLE BIT. I DON'T THINK WE NEED TO LET LOUISIANA OFF THE HOOK. THIS MAY BE PARTLY IOWA'S PROBLEM, MAY BE PARTLY ILLINOIS' PROBLEM, BUT IT'S PARTLY LOUISIANA'S PROBLEM TOO. THEY CHANNELIZED THAT RIVER AND THEY'RE ROW CROPPING THE DELTA, AND THEY ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THE PROBLEM. AND I'M NOT READY AS THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE OF IOWA TO LET THEM OFF THE HOOK.

Obradovich: ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE IN IOWA AGRICULTURE RIGHT NOW IS GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS. COMMODITY GROUPS IN IOWA HAVE BASICALLY TAKEN THE STAND THAT GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS ARE BENEFICIAL AND THAT THERE SHOULDN'T BE ANY PUBLIC POLICY THAT MIGHT BE SEEN AS, SORT OF, ATTACKING THAT POSITION. LAST YEAR THERE WAS A BILL IN THE LEGISLATURE THAT TRIED TO CARVE OUT A SPECIES -- OR A VARIETY OF SOYBEAN - THAT WOULD NOT BE GENETICALLY MODIFIED, AND THE COMMODITY GROUPS KILLED THAT. DO YOU THINK IOWA SHOULD CONTINUE TO PURSUE THAT POLICY, THOUGH? ARE WE MISSING OUT ON MARKETS IN EUROPE AND ASIA THAT SHOULD BE EXPLOITED FOR CUSTOMERS THAT DON'T WANT THEIR CROPS TO BE MODIFIED?

Judge: I REALLY BELIEVE IOWA HAS ENOUGH CAPACITY THAT WE CAN SERVE BOTH MARKETS, AND THAT IS WHERE I'VE TRIED TO MOVE US. THERE IS A HUGE ASIAN MARKET FOR NONGENETICALLY MODIFIED PRODUCTS, PARTICULARLY SOYBEANS. I THINK WE NEED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT, AND WE HAVE GROWERS THAT ARE GROWING THAT SPECIALTY CROP OR THAT NONMODIFIED BEAN FOR THAT ASIAN MARKET. WE NEED TO HELP THEM IN IDENTITY PRESERVATION AND IN MOVING THAT INTO THE MARKETPLACE. LIKEWISE, THERE ARE A LOT OF FARMERS THAT ARE GOING TO CHOOSE THE OTHER ROUTE, THE STRAIGHT COMMODITY ROUTE, PLANT ROUND-UP READY BEANS. WE LIKE THOSE BEANS. THEY GROW WELL IN IOWA. THERE ARE LESS COSTS ON INPUTS. SO I THINK THAT THERE'S ENOUGH MARKET FOR THOSE BEANS TOO. I DON'T THINK, IN IOWA. WE'RE SO BLESSED WITH ABILITY TO GROW THAT IT HAS TO BE AN EITHER/OR. I THINK WE JUST NEED TO WORK ON DEVELOPING THAT MARKET. WE NEED TO BE AGGRESSIVELY PURSUING THE MARKETPLACE FOR ALL TYPES OF THESE AND CORN AND OTHER DIVERSIFIED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS.

Henderson: YOU ARE AN ELECTED SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE. THERE ARE THOSE WHO SUGGEST THAT THE POSITION SHOULD BE AN APPOINTED COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE UNDER THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT IDEA?

Judge: ABOUT HALF THE STATES IN THE UNITED STATES ELECT AND ABOUT HALF APPOINT. AND I'VE ALWAYS -- BEFORE I DECIDED TO DO THIS AS A STATE LEGISLATOR, I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT WE NEEDED TO HAVE THIS AS AN ELECTED POSITION. NOW THAT I HAVE BEEN ELECTED AND I'M A DEMOCRAT AND NOW THAT WE HAVE A DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR, I THINK, WELL, MAYBE HE WOULD APPOINT ME IF HE HAD THE ABILITY TO APPOINT. BUT TRUTHFULLY, I THINK THAT AS LONG AS AGRICULTURE HAS THE PLACE IT DOES IN THE IOWA ECONOMY, IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE A STRONG INDEPENDENT VOICE SPEAKING FOR THAT INTEREST.

Newell: IN ABOUT 30 SECONDS TIME, THE FREEDOM TO FARM ACT OF 1996 IS UP FOR GRABS IN 2003. WILL IT SURVIVE?

Judge: NO. IT WILL NOT AND WE NEED TO BE AT THE TABLE. IOWA IS THE PREMIERE AGRICULTURAL STATE IN THIS NATION, AND THAT NEW FARM BILL NEEDS TO REFLECT OUR NEEDS. AND I INTEND TO BE THERE AND TO BE VERY VOCAL.

Newell: CAN IT HAPPEN?

Judge: YES. WE WILL CHANGE THAT AND IT WILL BE BETTER THAN IT IS NOW.

Newell: VERY GOOD. SECRETARY JUDGE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY HERE ON IOWA PRESS.

Judge: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Newell: ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF IOWA PRESS, OUR FOCUS REMAINS ON THE IOWA STATEHOUSE. JOINING US IS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SALLY PEDERSON HERE AT THE IOWA PRESS TABLE TO DISCUSS THE FIRST 18 MONTHS OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK. THAT'S NEXT SUNDAY AT NOON AND 7 P.M. BEFORE WE LEAVE, THIS REMINDER: IOWA PRESS IS NOW AVAILABLE TO OUR IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION VIEWERS ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB. EACH WEEK OUR WEB PAGE FEATURES COMMENTARIES FROM OUR TEAM OF IOWA PRESS REPORTERS, NEWS LINKS TO OTHER SOURCES AND TOPICS DEALT WITH HERE AT THE IOWA PRESS TABLE, REPORTER BIOS, A LOOK AHEAD, AND TRANSCRIPTS FROM PAST EDITIONS OF IOWA PRESS. WE'RE AVAILABLE AT WWW.IOWAPRESS.IPTV.ORG. HOPE YOU WROTE IT DOWN. THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. DEAN BORG REJOINS US NEXT WEEK AT THIS SAME TIME, AND I HOPE YOU WILL AS WELL. I'M MIKE NEWELL. THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

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