July 25, 2021

MIKE NAIG: County fairs ‘are great community events’

Iowa Sec. of Agriculture visits Jasper County Fair for the first time

Mike Naig likes to visit as many fairs as he can during the summer. This past week the state’s secretary of agriculture stopped by six fairs, including the Jasper County Fair. It was his first time touring the fairgrounds. By the time he arrived Friday afternoon, volunteers were still hard at work with final preparations.

Jerry Elscott, president of the Jasper County Fair Board of Directors, led Naig through the usual stops: the pavilion, the animal barns, the campgrounds, the arena. Naig said county fairs are a great place for young people to show their livestock and gave credit to the volunteers who keep these fairs alive.

“I love to visit with the young people — the 4-H’ers and FFA students — who are showing,” Naig said. “You can just tell when you’re talking to them, these kids are so excited to be here. A lot of ‘em didn’t have a normal fair last year, so it’s great to be back. And these are great community events, too.”

Naig said he enjoys promoting county fairs, who are champions of both 4-H and FFA programs. So many life lessons are learned when youth actively participate in county fair activities. Naig said kids figure out how to prepare and compete. Maybe you do better than you hoped. Maybe you don’t.

“But you learn from that, and that’s a great growth opportunity,” Naig said. “What I continue to see is these are community events. So you’ll have people are farm or ag people and you’ll have people from town who don’t know much about ag. It’s a great way to get people together and have awareness.”

CHANGE OF SUBJECT: DERECHO

In less than a month, it will have been one year since the derecho hit Iowa. The storm’s devastating wind gusts impacted nearly 2 million acres of corn and about 600,000 acres of soybeans during a promising growing season. Naig said there are “lingering effects” of the derecho affecting farmers in 2021.

If people know what they’re looking for, Naig said, they can still see buildings and homes damaged and are still in need of repair. There are a number of trees that also sustained heavy damages, which Naig said will likely need to be cut down and, hopefully, replanted.

“From a crop standpoint, the big thing that happened is that corn went down and then you end up with that corn becoming ‘volunteer corn’ or essentially a weed this year because it competes with the crop — that’s been an issue,” Naig said.

Farmers who had fields in that storm path “are absolutely dealing with the lingering effects” of the derecho, Naig added. How do farmers solve this issue? Typically, they rotate crops and look closely at weed control and figure out the best options to kill the corn sprouting up in bean fields, Naig said.

Many of the crop damages were insurable, but Naig said insurance “never makes you whole.” Crop insurance is a great risk management tool for the 97 percent of Iowa farmers who carry it, he added. However, farmers don’t have 100 percent coverage, and at the end of the day “you don’t have a crop in the bin to market.”

Naig said, “There are losses that you just can’t totally cover with crop insurance. But the good news is that most of those losses are covered. The other thing that is impacting is you may be waiting to rebuild something because you can’t get the materials or the contractor is busy or there’s a labor shortage.

“Some people are just waiting to have those projects completed.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.