The Exchange, Jan. 09, 2019, Gov. Shutdown, Ag Suffers, Leg Session, Small Wonder

Jan 9, 2019

The Iowa Legislature

The Exchange 010919 


Coming up next on The Exchange, the partial government shutdown is compound the effect of the ongoing trade war with China for corn and soybean farmers, who may not get vital market reports this month.


Also, a look at the upcoming Iowa legislative session and Jim Schaap takes a look back at the Children’s Blizzard of 1888 on another Small Wonder.  That and more coming up on The Exchange, 



Welcome to The Exchange, on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.  The partial government shut down has affected several areas of the economy, but here in the Midwest, agricultural services have suffered to a greater extent and with a broader effect than other regions of the country. In Iowa and Nebraska, there has been concern on the part of corn and soybean growers that the partial shutdown will affect the distribution of checks meant to help out losses caused by the tariff war with China that is severely reducing the volume of commodities that farmers had been used to selling aboard.  Farmers who planned to apply for subsidies were worried that they would have to wait to get paid until the Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency offices reopen. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it would accept farmer applications for the tariff relief program after the partial federal government shutdown ends. The announcement is calming worries among many farmers who had no way to provide the required paperwork because local USDA offices are closed. The original deadline was next week. Iowa Farmers Union president Aaron Lehman hadn’t submitted his information yet and says the deadline extension is welcome news.

0108lehman1 while this is not how we want to be earning our income and it’s a bad policy that’s led us into this direction, at the same time we need to look at every option we have to try to make ends meet. (:14)

The tariffs exacerbated what has been several years of low commodity prices for Iowa’s corn and soybean farmers. USDA has not yet set a new deadline for the program. 

Junke is the executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.  Junke says the subsidies are being provided via a market facilitation program, that until yesterday, were only guaranteed until the middle of January.  

Pork Producers

That was Al Junke, the Executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producer Association, talking about how producers are faring during the partial government shutdown, which has shut down federal offices that disperse subsidy checks to offset losses caused by the US tariff war with China. 

The shutdown of federal is also affecting corn and soybean farmers, as stated by Junke. Those farmers depend on the information provided by crop reports to plan for the future.  Todd Hultman is the lead grain market analyst for data provider DTN in Omaha.  Hultman says the government's decision to delay monthly and quarterly crop reports are leaving farmers without vital information during a volatile time for agricultural markets. 


Todd Hultman is the lead grain analyst for data provider DTN in Omaha.  Hultman is concerned about the effects of the partial government shutdown on agriculture and agricultural markets, as crop reports and other vital information is not being published. 

You’re listening to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I'm Mary Hartnett.  You're listening to The Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I'm Mary Hartnett. 

Next week, Iowa lawmakers will return to the statehouse to begin the 2019 legislative session.  Before the holidays, I spoke with Democratic state representative from Sioux City Chris Hall about some of the Democrats priorities for the session.  Hall said he was concerned about fixing the problems associated with privatized Medicaid, possible effects of tax cuts on the state budget and the need to adequately fund k-12 schools and the judiciary in Iowa.  I talked this week with Republican State Representative John Wills of Dickinson County about those same issues.  Wills says Republicans are likely to another look at tax rates in Iowa.

First District State Representative John Wills (R), Spirit Lake


That was Republican State Representative John Wills of Dickinson County, talking about taxes, gun rights, education spending and other issues likely to be up for debate in the 2019 Iowa legislative session which begins next Monday.  


You’re listening to The Exchange on SPM. I’m Mary Hartnett.  

Recently, the annual America’s Health Rankings Report came out and showed some of the areas that the State of Iowa is doing well in and some areas where there is room for improvement.  The 2018 reports say Iowa is doing a better job educating and caring for children, which includes a number one ranking for the percentage of students that graduate from high school, but our citizens are increasingly obese and affected by heart disease and cancer.  Dr. Rhonda Randall is one of the authors of the report put out by United Healthcare National Markets.   Randall says the 2018 report uses data from a large number of sources and focuses on a large number of areas of concern.

Iowa Health Report Card

That was Dr. Rhoda Randall, a spokesperson for United Healthcare National, which recently published the 2018 America's Health Ranking Report.  The report shows that Iowans need to reduce high rates of obesity and heart problems, and also indicates that the state made strides in battling childhood poverty and disease.

You’re listening to The Exchange, on SPM, I’m Mary Hartnett.  Next week, the Siouxland Human Rights Commission is holding an event next Wednesday evening at the Sioux City Public Museum to recognize the importance of the MeToo Movement to prevent sexual harassment and abuse.  Karen Mackie is the of the director of the Sioux City Human Rights Commission.  Mackie says this MeThree event take a look at the MeToo movement and beyond it, and to call attention to some of the services in Siouxland that help those who have been affected by sexual harassment and assault.

That was Karen Mackie is the of the director of the Sioux City Human Rights Commission talking about next week’s MeThree Event at the Sioux City Public Museum The event will discuss the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and in everyday life. The event takes place Wednesday January 16thfrom 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the museum.  You should register through the Sioux City Public Museum by next Monday, January 14th.  

Small Wonder Children’s Blizzard. 

And finally today, as we enjoy the unusually balmy January weather in Iowa, we look back at a devastating blizzard that swept across the plains more than a century ago this week.  Here’s Jim Schaap with another Small Wonder.

A January thaw is what all of us look forward to right now, a breath of warmth that reopens our hope that someday soon April will return. Two cold-of-winter days, maybe three, of forty degrees. No wind.

Heaven comes to Siouxland.

That’s the relief people felt early on January 12, 1888, when most of those who’d put down homesteads had just arrived.

Here’s how David Laskin describes that morning:

Everyone who wrote about January 12 noticed something different about the quality of that morning—the strange color and texture of the sky, the preternatural balminess, the haze, the fog, the softness of the south wind, the thrilling smell of thaw, the “great waves” of snow on the prairie that gleamed in the winter sun.

And then this: “The one aspect they all agreed on was the sudden, welcome rise of temperature.” A January thaw, a morning to remember, but a balmy prelude to horror.

Laskin’s book, The Children’s Blizzard, tells the story. When that strange warmth suddenly lifted, hundreds of people, most of them children, perished in a blizzard that made prairie skies dark as night and created massive drifts in winds that drove crystallized snow into your face so ferociously it filled up what flesh it didn’t tear away.

Seven miles east of Freeman, South Dakota, five boys died, lost in the unremitting blast of snow. Three of them were Kaufmanns--Johann, Heinrich, and Elias. What they and two other boys intended was simply to get to safety at the Graber house, a quarter mile east of the school, Ratzlaff #66. The wall they hit was a zero-visibility blizzard.

The victims’ families were all “Schweizers,” German-speaking Mennonites booted from Russia, who’d come to the Dakota Territory with fifty other families seeking the religious freedom they’d looked to find for 200 years--and the opportunity to live a good and safe life. None of them had it easy; sometimes their children would alternate attending school because families didn’t have shoes enough to go around.

But there was promise here in Dakota.

Then came “the Children’s Blizzard.”

Those five Freeman boys just disappeared; and even though search parties went out the next morning in the swirling remnants, no one found them until three days later, on the Sabbath, when a man spotted an arm jutting from a snowbank, an arm belonging to the eldest Kaufmann, Johann, who was likely holding up a coat to shield the younger boys from the killer.

They ended up two-and-one-half miles southeast of Ratzlaff #66, buried by the blizzard, just forty feet from the farmhouse of the man who found them. 

The story goes that man went to church with the news that Sunday. I don’t know if he interrupted worship. I don’t know what they might have been singing, but I can guess how hard they prayed.

No one knows precisely how many people perished in that massive blizzard.  Most estimate the grim death toll at somewhere near 250.

It all began with a sweet January thaw that quick as a fox descended into madness. At Valentine, Nebraska, the temperature was 30 degrees at 6 a.m., six degrees at two in the afternoon. 14 below at nine that night.

Somewhere out in south-central Nebraska you'll find a highway marker that tells that neighborhood's chapter of the story, but there's nothing up at all east of Freeman, where five boys died. There's no sign, no story, only endless rows of corn and soybeans. Even the farms are gone.

All the way from Russia, those Schweizers carried with them an old Mennonite hymn, something with a first line that went like this: “Wherlos und verlassen sehnt sich oft mein Herz nach stiller Ruh”—“When I’m lonely and defenseless,/my heart longs for rest and peace.”

Maybe that Sunday, that old favorite was the one they went back to, all of them. If not that Sunday, surely the next.


Support for Small Wonders on Siouxland Public Media comes from the Daniels Osborn Law Firm in the Ho Chunk Centre in downtown Sioux City, serving needs of clients in real estate transactions; business formation and guidance; and personal estate planning. More information is available on Facebook or at

Dr. James Schaap reads from "Small Wonders," a collection of Siouxland histories, every Monday morning at 7:44 on Siouxland Public Media.