Iowa cattle farmer to pay fine for contaminating creek for second time

Via Flickr.

By Eleanor Hildebrandt | December 10, 2021

An Iowa cattle farmer was fined this week for letting manure-laden water pollute a creek repeatedly.

Lou Pick from Remsen, Iowa, will pay $9,000 after the most recent pollution killed thousands of fish in the creek near his farm. Pick allowed the water to escape a detention basin on his land near cattle feedlots multiple times in 2021.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources tested Whiskey Creek and found heightened levels of bacteria and ammonia contaminants, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch. The water at the creek was bronze and smelled, according to a passerby’s report earlier this year. Whiskey Creek, however, does not flow into a major waterway.

According to DNR records, the water from Pick’s farm pumps into a basin, but the pump failed allowing the water to continue to contaminate the creek. This is the second fine for the farmer. In 2018 he paid $7,000 for contaminated water going to the same basin and flowing into water near Whiskey Creek.  

Idaho grazing lease sold to environmental group who outbid rancher

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | August 31, 2021

The Western Watersheds Project outbid a rancher to purchase a grazing lease in central Idaho in its effort to end all public-land grazing.

The group bid over $8,000 for 620 acres of land. The project will also pay an additional annual fee of $800 for the number of sheep and cattle that are authorized to be on the land. The lease is for 20 years and the land is situated in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley, according to the Associated Press. This might not be the only grazing lease that goes to environmental groups instead of ranchers. The Idaho Cattle Association said it’s possible that more leases will be sought after by groups like the Western Watersheds Project.

The new owners of the land plan to convert the grazing lease into a conservation lease, which will allow the environmental group to invest in wildlife on the 620 acres. The grazing lease joins more than 1,100 managed by the Idaho Department of Lands, covering thousands of square miles of land in the state.

Erik Molvar, the executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, said the purchase was an expensive way to achieve the group’s goals of conserving land in Idaho. He called the Sawtooth Valley “one of the crown jewels of Idaho” that is valuable and an area rich with diverse wildlife.

Environmental advocacy groups ask DNR director to overrule feedlot project

Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | May 27, 2021

Environmental groups and state lawmakers are asking Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon to block a project that plans to place 11,600 cattle near a protected trout stream in northeast Iowa.

The Supreme Beef cattle operation is planned to be near Monona and Bloody Run Creek. The creek is a protected trout stream and is considered an Outstanding Iowa Water. The feedlot will be in the creek’s watershed. Supreme Beef plans to apply manure in fields that are also in the watershed.

More than 40 groups, individuals, and elected officials sent a letter to Lyon asking her to use the “director discretion rule” to veto the approval of the operation. Lyon was appointed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to head the DNR. She formerly worked as a lobbyist for the Iowa Instituted for Cooperatives according to Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The letter argues the risk posed to the water quality of the Bloody Run Creek is “just too high”. Five state representatives and four state senators signed onto the letter alongside the Sierra Club and the Iowa Environmental Council. Agricultural groups like the Iowa Farmers Union also signed the letter.

The groups are asking for a “departmental evaluation” of the proposal to provide special protection of the environmentally sensitive area due to the potential for manure to run into the Bloody Run Creek’s waterway.

The approval of the feedlot was decided on April 2. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, if Lyons does not overrule the plan, environmental groups could consider filing a lawsuit against Supreme Beef.

On The Radio: Iowa cattle producers honored with environmental award

Glenn and Bev Rowe on their Union County farm. (IowaAgribusiness/YouTube)
Bev and Glenn Rowe on their Union County farm. (IowaAgribusiness/YouTube)

August 31, 2015

This week’s On the Radio segment looks at two Iowa cattle producers and their efforts to maintain an environmentally-sustainable operation. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Transcript: Iowa cattle producers honored with environmental award

Two southwest Iowa cattle producers were recently honored for their efforts to maintain an environmentally-sustainable operation.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Earlier this year, Glenn and Bev Rowe of Lorimor  were named regional winners of the National Cattle Association’s Environmental Stewardship Award Program. The Rowes were honored because of several sustainability projects they partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for, including rotational grazing, rural pipeline installation, and stream bank stabilization.

The couple first started with a small cattle herd in rural Dallas County in 1969 and now manage roughly 1,000 acres in Union County. In addition to cattle grazing land, the farm also includes 250 acres of no-till cropland as well as about 40 acres of wildlife refuge.

The Rowes will now compete with the winners from six other regions for a change to take the top spot in the nation which will be announced during the Cattle Industry Annual Convention and Trade Show in San Diego this January.

For more information about the Rowes and their award visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

On the Radio: Unexpected consequences of beef hormones on aquatic ecosystems

Cattle in the snow near Monmouth, Iowa (Phil Roeder/Flickr)
Cattle in the snow near Monmouth, Iowa (Phil Roeder/Flickr)

July 13, 2015

This week’s On the Radio looks at new research suggesting beef hormones can make their way to waterways for longer periods than originally thought. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript:

Transcript: Beef hormones and waterways

A powerful growth hormone used on cattle may be having unexpected consequences on U.S. waterways.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

An Indiana University study co-authored by two University of Iowa researchers shows that trenbolone acetate, or TBA, a growth hormone given to cattle, may be making its way to streams and rivers in an unexpected and highly potent form. That’s according to lead author and CGRER member Adam Ward:

“These are incredibly potent steroids; we designed them to be potent. We designed them to persist so they don’t break down in cattle and continue to have that impact. And when these reach the environment, they do the same thing to fish.”

In the case of TBA, the byproduct is a new compound called 17-alpha-trenbolone, a powerful endocrine disruptor that can affect the reproductive processes of fish and can even cause sex changes from female to male.

“That means the product, what is unexpectedly made in the environment, is more harmful than what we put into the environment.”

For more information about this study, visit

From the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, I’m Jerry Schnoor.

The challenge of waste at feed lots

Photo by USDAgov, Flickr.
Photo by USDAgov, Flickr.

Iowa Public Radio released an audio story about the challenges of disposing waste from beef feedlots.

The story covers both how owners of beef feed lots deal with waste, and the challenge states face in regulating feed lots.

This is an important topic in Iowa right now, as our state is deciding how best to limit runoff into waterways.

Listen to Iowa Public Radio’s story here.

Cattle owners must help their animals fight the heat

Photo by NDSU Ag Comm, Flickr.

Iowa is in the midst of a hot spell. This is particularly challenging weather for cattle and their owners.

In order to keep cattle safe, their owners should make sure there’s clean water and shade available. Additionally, it’s recommended to feed the cattle more than usual during the hot afternoons.

Finally, if the cattle are really struggling, their owners should sprinkle the animals with water.

Read more from the Des Moines Register here.