IPR News Stories

Joyce Russell/IPR file photo

Governor Branstad has signed an executive order calling on state agencies to prepare for a possible cyber attack on Iowa infrastructure.    The Iowa National Guard, the Iowa Department of Public Safety, and others will draft a cyber-security strategy by July 1st.  State officials say, though, they are not aware of a credible threat at the present time.  

Photo by Abby Wendle/Harvest Public Media

 

The U.S. may be on the verge of a boom in new fertilizer plants, which could be good news for farmers, but not the environment.

Today's farmers can produce more from their land than ever before thanks, in part, to nitrogen fertilizer, a key ingredient that has never been more widely available.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Federal officials have told Iowa the state is not ready to transition management of its Medicaid system to private companies.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has told Iowa in a letter today it may transition to private management on March 1st instead of January 1st, 2016, as long as the state makes sufficient progress toward readiness by that time.  

The agency says, “a transition on January 1st would risk serious disruption in the care for Iowa Medicaid beneficiaries.”

Flickr / John M

It might not help you burn off that large Thanksgiving meal, but a new study from the University of Iowa says people who use desks designing for sitting and standing at work do burn about 87 more calories a day, compared to coworkers who only sit.

Clay Masters / IPR

The Iowa caucuses are now 47 days away and many presidential candidates are descending on the state that kicks off presidential elections. Following last night’s Republican debate in Nevada, Marco Rubio held his first campaign stop in suburban Des Moines where he continued to go after fellow candidate and Senator Ted Cruz.

The debate last night was a chance for candidates to remind Americans Donald Trump is NOT the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

Some of the sharpest back-and-forth moments came from Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

Photo by Amy Mayer

Each year, Iowa State University surveys hundreds of bankers, appraisers, and realtors to capture a snapshot of farmland values. The decline of about four percent this year marks the first time since the farm crisis of the 1980s that values have dropped two years in a row. ISU economist Wendong Zhang says that doesn’t mean values will plunge.

"It's still much less than what you see in the 1980s," Zhang says, "and there are a lot of income and cash accumulation over the past few years so I don't think you'll see a large crisis as you've seen in the 1980s."

Flickr / Jeff Gitchel

Parts of Iowa are still facing flooding as a result of this past weekend’s rain. The National Weather Service says as rainwater in central Iowa flows southeast into rivers and streams, agricultural fields and low-lying roads will be submerged. 

"The one thing to note though is that the streams widen as they go down stream, so they they can handle more water" says NWS meteorologist Rod Donavon. "The impacts will be lessened as we get down towards the Ottumwa area, for example, on the Des Moines River." 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

Veterinarian and researcher Scott Dee doesn't much look the part of a detective, in his jeans and company polo shirt.

But when a virus never before seen in North America swept through the network of hog farms where he works, Pipestone Veterinary Services, in January 2014, he had his first clue.

"These farms had the same pattern of infection," Dee said.

Dean Borg/IPR

In a rally repeatedly punctuated by cheering and standing ovations, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spent more than an hour Sunday addressing a more than a thousand supporters on the Cornell College campus in Mount Vernon.

Before coming into the gymnasium main event, Sanders met in a side room with 19 military veterans and veterans’ advocates. He apologized to those at the rally for being a few minutes late.

Photo by Amy Mayer

A fast-spreading virus never before seen in the United States hit the pork industry more than two years ago, racking up roughly $1 billion in losses and spiking prices for consumers.

While researchers are still trying to track the culprit, it appears to be an intrepid world traveler that may have been delivered directly to farmers' barn doors, creating an intriguing international back story traced to China.

A coalition of religious leaders is having a unity prayer gathering on west steps of the State Capitol on Sunday. The group’s purpose is to show solidarity with Iowa Muslims, in light of what it calls, “hateful, divisive language" against Muslims in recent days.

Rev. Billy Young, president of the Pastors and Ministers Alliance of Des Moines, plans to attend. He says the current anti-Muslim climate reminds him of his childhood in Mississippi, where the Klu Klux Klan burnt a cross on his front lawn because his family was African-American.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

A proposed merger between two giants of American business, DuPont and Dow, could ultimately result in an agricultural company more focused on farmers than either is today.

At least that's one interpretation of the proposed $130 billion deal, which would create the biggest chemical company in the United States and the second largest in the world.

Flickr / William Patrick Butler

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is in Iowa this week accessing the state’s readiness to transition the management of Iowa’s Medicaid program into the hands of four private companies on Jan. 1. Critics say the process has been unorganized and rushed, and many Medicaid recipients complain they don’t have enough information to determine which, if any, of the Managed Care Organizations best fits their coverage needs.

Harvest Public Media file photo by Grant Gerlock

Canada and Mexico could impose tariffs on more than $1 billion-worth of U.S. goods as a way to compensate for losses brought on by a U.S. labeling law.

The World Trade Organization set the level of retaliation Monday, the final step in a long-running dispute over the Country-Of-Origin-Labels, or COOL, policy.

As of 2009, retailers must include on meat a label that states where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. Meat companies have to track and label products, and Canada and Mexico say that drops demand for their goods.

Iowa Public Radio / Sarah Boden

The Department of Human Services says it is not sure exactly how many of the nearly 30,000 Medicaid providers in Iowa have signed with at least one of the four for-profit companies that will take over Iowa’s Medicaid management on Jan. 1. This lack of information was one of the points Democrats used in a failed effort to delay the transition during Monday's Health Policy Oversight Committee meeting.

"I'm a little disappointed in the numbers you're giving me," says Rep. John Forbes of Urbandale. "Twenty-five days before this goes live. I have some concerns about that." 

Flickr / Tyler

At the Iowa Taxpayers Association's annual symposium on Friday, elected officials discussed Medicaid and the program's transition into management by four private, for-profit companies. The change is scheduled for January 1st, but many say this is a rushed deadline. 

State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says he anticipates that during the next legislative session, a lot of focus will be devoted to resolving Medicaid-related issues. 

JOHN PEMBLE/IPR FILE

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that plea bargains may not be undermined by the prosecution, which negotiates agreements with defense attorneys. 

Andrew Lopez pleaded guilty in 2013 to child endangerment. He reached a plea bargain that recommended probation and no-contact agreement. 

At Lopez's sentencing hearing the prosecuting attorney submitted new evidence at a sentencing hearing, including photos of burn and bite marks on the toddler involved. The judge in the case sentenced him to a prison sentence of up to five years. 

A national veterans’ advocacy group is visiting with presidential candidates as they crisscross the country in effort to hold them accountable.

Members of Concerned Veterans of America will be in Iowa tomorrow and next week for a series of town hall meetings.  CVA Executive Director Pete Hegseth says it’s part of an effort get both Republicans and Democrats on the record.

Flickr / Laura Taylor

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that for some patients with stage IV breast cancer, surgery can significantly prolong their lives. 

Once breast cancer reaches stage IV, the disease has spread to parts of the body beyond the breasts. Many doctors consider these patients incurable and won't operate as they don't want to incur the risks of surgery in an already terminal patient.

But it turns out surgery may be worthwhile. 

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

As Congress debates restoring $3 billion in recent cuts to the crop insurance program as part of a transportation bill, at least one environmental group says the cuts should stay.

 

Photo by Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

The value of farmland is riding high, and so are the taxes farmers pay on that property. But as those numbers remain steady, the actual income farmers make from the land has tumbled, leaving some farmers to push for a discount on their tax bill.

Larry Tegeler raises corn and soybeans along with some cattle in northeast Nebraska. He started farming about 30 years ago, and the first land he ever bought was a field near the small town of Meadow Grove.

On a windy fall afternoon, Tegeler looked over the 160 acres of rolling, sandy soil he purchased in 1987.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

In a small school district in Southeast Iowa, five young women are taking the future of science education into their own hands.

They’ve designed a proposed building addition that would provide room for students to experiment in science, technology, engineering and math.

Design team member Riley McElderry at Cardinal High School in Eldon says the project began by asking some simple questions.

courtesy of the Iowa Fashion Project

The Midwest is not traditionally regarded as a style hub, but a few young designers based in Iowa are trying to change that. They’ve launched the Iowa Fashion Project, which will hold its first full fashion show in just a few weeks.

Pat Blank/IPR

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is in Iowa trying to gain some momentum in his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination.

He told a gathering at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo Tuesday that he disagrees with President Obama’s statement this year that climate change is a major issue affecting nearly every American sector.

“The idea that 99-percent of scientists believe that this is all decided is just not true,” he said. “It’s true that the climate changing, but that’s not a Captain Brilliant comment, it’s a Captain Obvious comment.”

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard created goals for increasing the amount of ethanol, biodiesel, and other greener fuels available in the United States. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced volume mandates under the RFS for 2014, 2015, and 2016, and while the ethanol level is better than some biofuels supporters feared, many in the Corn Belt are expressing disappointment.

Earlier this year, though, the EPA had floated a proposal that would have reduced ethanol even more.

Flickr / Pictures of Money

For nonprofit organizations in Iowa and around the country, today is “Giving Tuesday,” a day marking the unofficial start of the charitable-giving season. But before you give, it’s wise to checkout a charity’s credentials.

Clay Masters / IPR

 

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is stepping up his game in Iowa. The Texas Senator has picked up influential endorsements there and is drawing bigger crowds. Many caucus-goers are still deciding who to support in this state that kicks off presidential elections. Cruz is making a big play for the much-coveted Iowa evangelical vote.

 

It was the first Sunday of advent at the Christian Life Assembly of God Church in Des Moines. Ted Cruz felt right at home.

IPR file photo by Amy Mayer

The amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. fuel supply will go up under new rules issued Monday.

In releasing the details of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the policy that sets the amount of biofuels oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it planned to continue to increase the proportion of renewable fuels, most of which is comprised of corn ethanol.

Photo by John Pemble

Gov. Terry Branstad says the state will move forward as planned with the January 1st deadline for Medicaid privatization in Iowa. That’s despite last week’s recommendation from Administrative Law Judge Christie Scase that the state dismiss one of four contracts it awarded to for-profit companies to manage Iowa’s Medicaid programs.

Getting Homes Winter Ready

Nov 28, 2015
Pat Blank/IPR

People who need help with the cost of getting their home ready for winter can get it from Green Iowa AmeriCorps. Its programs help low income, elderly, disabled, and veteran households with such things as caulking, minor insulation, and eliminating drafts. Outreach coordinator, Brad James, says the program is about both education and assistance.

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