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Newscast 04.08.22: IA Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig at Morningside University on Avian Flu and Wild Bird Monitoring; ISU Professors Offered Early Retirement

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig at Morningside University Friday

The presence of the highly contagious bird flu in Iowa has forced the killing of millions of hens and hundreds of thousands of turkeys. The latest cases were at an egg farm in Osceola County and a turkey farm in Cherokee County, both in northwest Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources and its federal partners are working together to monitor for the presence of avian influenza in Iowa’s wild birds.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naige was at Morningside College this morning looking at the school’s greenhouse and other parts of the agriculture program. Naig said that monitoring is a very helpful tool to track avian flu.

“And there’s been monitoring done across the eastern seaboard, and some throughout the Midwest, and certainly we appreciate that, because it tells you is that load diminishing? Is there less virus out there in the wild or more? And so it does give us a chance to monitor that as we get into spring, when warmer temperatures come and birds are moving through. That will give us a sense of what kind of risk is still out there.”

Iowa is the nation’s leading egg producer and had 46 million chickens on farms in February. Iowa raises about 11.7 million turkeys annually.

Buena Vista County has been the hardest hit in Iowa, with the virus resulting in nearly 5.5 million birds there being destroyed.

A bill that would strengthen penalties for crimes against Iowans who are 60 or older has cleared its final legislative hurdle this week.

The bill creates new criminal penalties for emotional abuse and neglect of elder Iowans. The bill also deals with alleged cases of fraud.

The bill has been a top priority for AARP for several years. It won unanimous approval in the House and Senate and is headed to the governor for her approval.

A South Dakota lawmaker who said he gave legal advice to Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg following a fatal car accident says he will not vote on whether to impeach Ravnsborg when the House convenes next week. Republican Rep. Scott Odenbach sent a letter to the House speaker which says he plans to recuse himself from the vote and won’t attend the proceedings in Pierre Tuesday. Odenbach, who at the time was running for the House seat he eventually won, says Ravnsborg reached out to him for input on a public statement that was released two days after the attorney general struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian who was walking along a rural highway in September 2020.

A nonprofit group is urging city leaders in Sioux Falls to place a moratorium on the construction of a $600 million pork processing plant. Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls say the impacts of odor contamination, noise contamination, and traffic congestion haven't been sufficiently studied. Much like Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, Wholestone Farms will handle about 6 million hogs per year. Locally-owned Wholestone Farms says the plant’s design and odor will not be a hazard to the area’s quality of life.

Some tenured faculty at Iowa State University will have the chance to consider early retirement amid budget cuts, after the approval of retirement incentives Thursday by the Iowa board of regents, according to The Des Moines Register.

The university sought the approval of the board for eligible tenured faculty within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be offered options to consider retirement no later than June 30, 2023. The faculty would have to express their interest in retiring by that date between Oct. 3 and Dec. 2.

About 127 tenured faculty would be eligible for the buyouts, according to the university's proposal.

The goal is to trim $15 million from the college's current annual budget by July 2025.

Two of the college's departments — history and philosophy, and religious studies — are set to take the biggest hits, losing 25% in each of their budgets.

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