FLOODED SENSES: MEETING MENTAL HEALTH CARE DEMAND IN DISASTER-STICKEN IOWA. Iowa does not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists or other mental health care providers to handle an increasing need to care for farmers dealing with relentless flooding this year, several mental health experts IowaWatch interviewed warned.
Farmers have been using the weed killer glyphosate – a key ingredient of the product Roundup – at soaring levels even as glyphosate has become increasingly less effective and as health concerns and lawsuits mount.
Small towns around Iowa have been fighting to support themselves as rural populations continue to decline, while state government has been investing more in larger cities where the population is growing.
Small Iowa towns struggle to stay alive as people move away and others do not move in to replace them. Humeston, Iowa, with just shy of 500 people, is one of those towns.
HUMESTON, Iowa — A small group of businesses in one southern Iowa town has found a way to stay open by banding together to attract spending customers to town, rather than compete against each other. “Why not Humeston?” Leigh Ann Coffey, owner of Sweet Southern Sass, said when asked why business owners choose to open a business in a small town. This report is the result of an IowaWatch Simpson College Journalism Project involving student journalists in Simpson’s spring 2019 journalism seminar. Reporters for the project were:
The journalists worked on this story starting in January 2019 with Lyle Muller of IowaWatch and Mark Siebert, Simpson assistant professor of multimedia communication. Sweet Southern Sass, Snyder’s, Grassroots Gallery & Cafe, Snips of Thread Quilt Shop and Grampa Jims formed a group “Shop Humeston.”
Normally, Story County soybean farmer Kevin Larson said, he would resolve a dispute with a neighbor privately. Instead, he went to the Iowa Pesticide Bureau in 2017, just like a lot of other Iowans did.
A volatile weed killer linked to cancer and endocrine issues will likely be sprayed on millions more acres of soybeans and cotton across the Midwest and South starting this year. In January, China approved imports of a new genetically modified soybean variety – Enlist E3 soybeans jointly made by Corteva Agriscience, a division of DowDupont and seed company MS Technologies– that can withstand the herbicide 2,4-D. “This is great news for U.S. soybean growers,” said Joseph Merschman, president of MS Technologies in a February press release. “This announcement clears the way for even more soybean growers to experience the high-yielding elite genetics and exceptional weed control offered by the Enlist E3™ soybean system.”
DowAgrosciences declined to comment for this story. The herbicide – 2,4-D – was one of the active ingredients in Agent Orange and has been shown to drift miles away from where it’s applied.
Since the early 1980s, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has conducted a grim census, tracking reports of deaths from crashes of all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. Now the body count has risen above 15,250, according to the agency’s latest annual report, with more than one in five of the deaths suffered by children under 16. The annual death count, which has sometimes exceeded 800, has mostly ranged from 550 to 650 in recent years. That seems like progress, but may actually be the result of riders switching to another type of off-road vehicle, called an ROV, that isn’t included in the ATV fatality reports. “The problem has not been solved,” said Rachel Weintraub, general counsel of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
Solar Advocates Raise Questions About Iowa Group Campaigning Against Net Metering, Suspect Utility Company
Iowa clean energy advocates suspect the state’s largest utility is secretly behind a new organization claiming to represent farmers, consumers and businesses that oppose the state’s solar policies. The utility neither confirmed nor denied a role in setting up the group and a spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy did not directly answer a question about its role in the group. But solar industry supporters said the timing and similarities in messaging suggest a link. “This group didn’t exist until the utilities, particularly MidAmerican, started pushing a bill that would decimate the distributed solar industry in Iowa,” said Josh Mandelbaum, a lawyer with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. In late January, a few weeks before the introduction of two bills that would impose new costs on solar customers, a website and Facebook page surfaced for an organization calling itself the REAL Coalition, which claims it “gives voice to Iowa consumers, farmers and businesses on the energy issues affecting our state.”
The website decries what it calls the “solar cost shift,” and urges legislators to “keep the interests of ALL your constituents in mind and vote YES” on bills moving briskly through both chambers that would impose substantial new fees on electricity customers who generate some of their own power.
Garrett Wilhelm was chatting with the Facetime app on his Apple iPhone, police say, as he sped along an interstate highway northwest of Dallas on the day before Christmas in 2014. He crashed his SUV into a sedan carrying a young family, killing five-year-old Moriah Modisette and injuring her parents and sister. Ashley Kubiak was reading a text on her iPhone when she drove her Dodge Ram pickup into a Chevy Tahoe in Rusk County, Texas, in April 30, 2013. Seven-year old Sammy Lane Meador was left paralyzed, and his grandmother and great aunt were killed. Wilhelm and Kubiak would face criminal charges, but the legal fallout has touched Apple as well.
The USDA has announced plans for a pilot program to bring broadband internet to all of rural America. The plan, which Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue calls a “proof of concept,” will provide $600 million dollars in grants and loans to internet service providers to bring connection to parts of the country that are too remote, underpopulated or expensive to serve. “I absolutely, unequivocally believe that broadband connectivity is part of rural prosperity,” said Perdue in a press conference on Dec. 13. “We don’t want an urban rural divide in this country.