acreage living September 1998

ISU cooperative extension

In this issue: acreage living home page

 Organize Records With New Booklet

(Prepared by Mary Beth Kaufman, ISU Extension Field SpecialistFamily Resource Management, Shelby County, 712/755-3104)

Here's a record keeping quiz:

If you answered "no" to any of these questions, it may be an indication you need to work on your record keeping. Most people know the record keeping guidelines - keep an inventory of personal property; record insurance and investment information; keep track of important names and addresses.

No matter how clear the guidelines, the best made plans for record keeping can fail to materialize and we find ourselves searching through drawers of papers before finding the needed information.

A newly revised booklet from ISU Extension may be just what is needed to get your record keeping on the right track. "Getting Organized" ( PM - 1121) is a 64 -page booklet available for $4.

Forms in the booklet will help you keep tabs on the many parts of your personal and financial matters.

There are forms to SUMMARIZE , so you won't have to play "hide and sort" through a lot of records to come up with figures or information you need. These forms include Family information such as birthdate and place, Social Security number, blood type, immunizations, medical history, education, and employment. You'll also find places to summarize your checking, saving, credit card, and charge accounts; safety deposit box and wallet contents; and the all important household inventory.

Other forms MEASURE your financial progress or the value of your possessions. These forms include: income and tax history, net worth statement, retirement and investment accounts, insurance policies, and real estate improvements.

Some forms are devoted to LISTS that can save a lot of time, trouble, tears, and dollars. You may know how to contact financial advisors or find certain records. But do your spouse, your children, or a close friend know where to go if something would happen to you? There are forms to identify where documents are located, who has power of attorney, and how you'd like personal property distributed. There's even a place to record your funeral and memorial instructions.

GUIDELINES at the beginning of the publication can help you decide where and how long to keep records. Is it best to keep a particular item in a safe deposit box, home file, or carry it with you? And not every piece of paper needs to be kept forever.

"Getting Organized" is PERSONAL business. Every family is different. Some want or need more complete records than others. You can fill out the forms in the booklet to the degree that fits your situation.

Do you remember the soft drink slogan "Gotta Have It?" "Getting Organized" is a "gotta have" for every household. Contact your county ISU Extension office and request your copy for only $4. It will be money well spent.

Decisions After a Death

When someone close to you dies, the last thing you need is a lot of confusion and hassle over handling the many items of business that need to be taken care of.

To help people deal with the business that must be taken care of after a death, ISU Extension has prepared a fact sheet, "Decisions After A Death." The fact sheet lists documents and information you would want to pull together to simplify tasks that lie ahead. This brief to-the-point fact sheet also lists key contacts and tasks to be done. Contact your county ISU Extension office for a free copy.

"Funny how we get so exact about time at the end of life and at its beginning. She died at 6:08 or 3:46, we say, or the baby was born at 4:02. But in between we slosh through huge swatches of time-weeks, months, years, and decades even." - Sister Helen Prejean.

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 Where is Your Favorite Place to Live?

(Prepared by Wayne Kobberdahl, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Communities, Mills County, 712/624-8616)

I am sure if I asked ten people - "Where is your favorite place to live?" - I might get ten different answers. I hope Iowa would be one of them. I am guessing North Dakota may not receive too many votes. The U.S. Bureau of Census knows the answer to that question.

Maybe it's the attraction of living near mile-high, snow-capped mountains. Perhaps it's the wide open spaces. Whatever the reason, people are heading toward the Mountain Division in increasing numbers. The census bureau has the United States divided into "divisions" and the Mountain Division consists of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. People in increasing numbers are moving to this part of our country.

The number of households in the Mountain Division leaped 14 percent between 1900 and 1995 - nearly twice the rate of any other division. It was home to six of the eleven states where the number climbed ten percent or more.

So - where would you like to live? For many of you, I am sure the Mountain Division states would have some real attractions. Given the choice, and the financial resources, I would like to live in northern Minnesota in the summer, Mexico in the winter, and Iowa during spring and fall.

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 Driving in Iowa

(Prepared by Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension Center, 712/769-2600)

This is the time of year when merely driving in Iowa can be both a joy to the senses and a risk to your life. Fall brings out the vibrant colors of the harvest season, but it also brings the steady stream of slow moving vehicles and farm equipment traffic.

Over 300 traffic collisions involve farm vehicles in Iowa each year. A study conducted at Iowa State University identified three accident situations that account for most of these collisions. Knowing and watching for these three situations can help you stay safe on Iowa's rural roads this fall.

left turn collisionsLeft turn collisions were the most common type of accident. In a typical case, a motorist pulls out to pass a slow moving farm vehicle just as the vehicle begins to turn left across the road. To avoid this type of accident, be aware that many farm vehicles have limited visibility to the rear and no turn signals. A vehicle that pulls off to the right shoulder may actually be preparing to make a left turn. Before passing, check the left side of the road for gates or driveways into which the vehicle might turn.

rear end collisionsRear end collisions were the second most common accident. Slow moving equipment is often struck from behind by motorists who misjudge the time required to slow to a matching speed. Watch for the orange and red triangle that indicates a slow moving vehicle. Be alert for farm traffic and slow down well in advance when you approach.


passing collisionsPassing collisions make up the other large group of accidents. Although farm vehicles are moving slowly, they may be very long and may take up more than half the roadway. Before passing, make sure you have sufficient visibility and space, and watch closely for corners of equipment that may extend across the road center line.


A large portion of farm vehicle collisions occur during harvest season. October has nearly twice as many collisions as any other month. The most common time of day for collisions is between 4 and 8 p.m. Mustering a little extra patience and being alert to the common accident situations can help you enjoy and survive driving in Iowa this fall. For more information, ask your county Extension office for bulletin Pm-1629, Safety on Iowa Roads, or check out the web version at

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 Farm Crisis?

You may have heard about the impending farm crisis. You may have also heard that this crisis is not like the crisis of the mid 1980's. It is correct that this farm economy downturn is not like the farm crisis of the 1980Ős. In that earlier crisis, many producers were highly leveraged and a precipitous decline in land values caused a crisis of liquidity. There simply was not enough cash flowing into some operations to make land and operating note payments, and there was little or no financial liquidity because of declining asset levels.

Why a downturn?

Two events set this downturn in motion: implementation of the Federal Agricultural Improvement Act of 1996 (the current farm bill) and the Asian financial crisis.

The current farm program decoupled agricultural production and program payments. This provides farmers with planting flexibility with program payments set at contract signing in mid 1996. While the planting flexibility had little effect here in the Western corn belt, it had major impacts in marginal crop production areas. For example, ground that had grown only wheat for the last fifty years is now growing cotton, beans, and in some cases corn. Price signals have led to increased production in several crops. In addition, more acreage is in production do to an elimination of set aside requirements. This has caused our domestic supplies of these crops to increase. This is represented graphically below with a shift from D1 to D2.

farmcrisis.jpg (12231 bytes)The current Asian financial crisis is getting the blame for so many problems that it is tempting to think that it is just another El Nino phenomenon. However, Asia makes up 38% of our agricultural export market. The significant depreciation in currency valuation that countries like Indonesia (84%), Thailand (40%), Malaysia (38%) and other pacific rim countries have faced have led to decreased export demand. It is not only that they are willing to pay less for what we have to offer, but they actually have much less buying power. This is represented graphically with a shift from S1 to S2.

To put it simply, we have both demand and supply problems in our major agricultural commodities. Supply has increased in beef, pork, poultry, corn, and soybeans. While domestic demand of these commodities is strong, export demand has been sluggish due to weakening currencies in the Pacific Rim. This has resulted in an overall demand decrease. Notice the resulting changes in price and quantity. We will discuss the current farm economy slump and how we will work out of the slump in future issues of the Acreage Living newsletter.


Acreage Living is published monthly. For more information, contact your local county ISU Extension Office.
Editor: Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa, 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600
Layout & Design: Paulette Cambridge, Office Assistant, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600

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