Iowa

Bill would cut penalty for possessing small amount of pot

Brad Zaun

A bill to ease the penalty for first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana has cleared a Republican-led subcommittee in the Iowa Senate.

Being caught with an amount of pot that’s five grams or less would be a simple misdemeanor if the bill becomes law. Republican Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale says that kind of a youthful indiscretion is penalized too harshly under current law.

“This charge follows these younger people or these adults that make these decisions which ruins, I think, their opportunities with jobs and employment,” Zaun says.

The bill cleared a three-member senate subcommittee Thursday, then it faces review in a full Senate committee. A similar bill cleared the Iowa Senate three years ago when Democrats held a majority of seats. Republicans now occupy 29 of the 50 seats in the state senate and Zaun is aware of the opposition from other Republicans.

“I know this is an uphill climb,” Zaun says.

A recent analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union found that while the same percentages of whites and blacks use marijuana, black Iowans are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Collision course? Competing bills about traffic cameras advance

A bid to ban all traffic enforcement cameras in Iowa is among the first bills to get some traction in the 2018 Iowa legislature. Subcommittees in both the House and Senate have approved the ban.

However, competing legislation to keep the cameras, but require fines be funnelled into law enforcement budgets has also cleared a House subcommittee.

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, has been seeking a “traffic cam” ban for years and he led a discussion of his bill this morning.

“I think what’s given this effort more energy this year…is what happened in Cedar Rapids where they’ve decided to hire a collection agency and when these people are coming in and they did not pay their tickets to the vendor or the city, they’re not going to get their tax refund,” Zaun said.

Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, said the cameras do not take into consideration adjustments drivers make based on traffic conditions.

“Why don’t we just put a GPS on everybody’s car? We’ll have no human equation. If you go over the speed limit, you get a ticket,” Taylor said. “Now if there’s a fire truck coming behind you and you have to speed up to get out of his way, doesn’t matter. You still get a ticket.”

Law enforcement officials say the speed cameras are critical in areas where it’s unsafe for officers to conduct traffic stops. Cedar Rapids Police point to curving Interstate-380 through downtown Cedar Rapids as an example.

“I think there are folks that as much as they dislike the technology and dislike their use, that there are appropriate areas for their use,” Gary Grant, a lobbyist for the City of Cedar Rapids, told senators on the subcommittee.

Grant called traffic cameras “an important tool for law enforcement.”

“As law enforcement budgets get tighter and tighter, we need to give them force multipliers when they’re out on the street,” Grant said.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, said he’s sympathetic to the idea technology can help law enforcement be more efficient, but he backs the ban.

“Our current system of traffic cameras isn’t acceptable to the broad mass of citizens,” Schultz said. “This way won’t work.”

Representative Ashley Hinson, a Republican from Marion, said there’s “passion on both sides of the issue,” but she favors more regulation rather than an outright ban of the cameras.

“I think it’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction to do an all-out ban,” Hinson said. “Why don’t we see if this addresses those concerns first, and then take the next step if it’s needed.”

Legislators have been debating this issue for years, without taking action. In 2012, the Iowa House voted to ban traffic cameras, but the Iowa Senate never considered the bill.

Two boys charged with vandalism that killed thousands of Sioux City bees

Destroyed bee hives in Sioux City.

Sioux City police say tips from the public have led to the arrest of two boys in the destruction of honeybee hives last month.

The unidentified boys — ages 12 and 13 — are suspected of the burglary and vandalism at the Wild Hill Honey operation on December 27th. All of the company’s hives were destroyed and half million bees perished in the cold.

The boys are charged with felony criminal mischief, third-degree burglary, agricultural animal facility offenses and possession of burglary tools. Damage to the business was estimated at more than $60,000.

No further arrests are anticipated.

Groups push for more laws regulating livestock operations

A coalition of more than two dozen state, local, and national organizations rallied at the statehouse today urging passage of a package of bills they say will strengthen regulation of large hog confinement operations known as CAFO’s.

The coalition says they have diminished the quality of life in the Iowa countryside. The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture is calling for a moratorium on new large hog operations until fewer than 100 Iowa waterways remain impaired.

It’s one of several bills offered by Senator David Johnson, an Independent from Ocheyedan , he says will strengthen the regulation of hog farms.  “It’s time to get tough on poor siting of hog confinements — including those being built in environmentally sensitive areas, and locating CAFO’s where the smell and sound of someone else’s money is in your bedroom every night,” Johnson says.

Johnson say more large hog operations are going up in areas of the state where the environment is sensitive. “In northwest Iowa CAFO’s are creeping into Dickinson County where the Iowa Great Lakes and other natural features draw more than a million visitors every year,” Johnson says. “Some people there wonder if CAFO’s and Iowa’s famous vacationland can co-exist.”

Under the bill, the moratorium would last until Iowa redesigns the so-called Master Matrix plan adopted in 2002 that helps to determine if a livestock operation can be built. Critics say the plan is not working to limit the locations of livestock operations.

The chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Ken Rozenboom, a Republican from Oskaloosa, has assigned a bill for consideration — be says he has concerns. “I just don’t think that’s the right way to approach whatever problem they’re trying to address,” Rozenboom says, “we are trying to grow Iowa, not hurt Iowa.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there are roughly 13,000 CAFO’s in Iowa, and the number continues to grow.

Warmer weather predicted to wipe out deep freeze

Iowans are facing another day of some bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Andrew Ansorge says the coldest conditions overnight we’re recorded in northern and western Iowa.

“Estherville was down to minus-11, Forest City minus-12, and Logan was down to minus-13,” Ansorge said. “So, there was definitely some cold air across the state.” Estherville posted a wind chill reading of 35-below zero.

While high temperatures today across much of Iowa will only reach the single digits above zero, a roughly 40-degree warmup is on the way. “As we go into Wednesday and Thursday, we’re going to see temperatures go into the 20s and 30s and by Friday, across much of the state, we’re probably looking at temperatures in the 40s,” Ansorge said.

This morning, some light snow and flurries were flying around the state. The next chance for significant snowfall is several days away. “The next big system we’re looking at is probably going to be this weekend,” Ansorge said. “There’s still quite a bit of differences in the track of how the low pressure will move across Iowa, but there’s a chance for rain and snow across the state. As we get closer to this weekend we’ll be able to hammer down more on those details.”

Ansorge said, right now, it appears the colder air associated with the system that might bring snow this weekend will not be as bitter or as long lived as this current round.

Special election today for Sioux City area House seat

A special election for an Iowa House seat in northwest Iowa today is a test for Iowa’s two major political parties.

Republicans hope to retain the seat, vacated when Republican Representative Jim Carlin of Sioux City won a special election last month to become a state senator. Democrats point to the results of that December race, as their Democratic candidate won the half of the state senate district that’s up for grabs today.

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill says the election for Iowa House District 6 will be held in 10 precincts in the Sioux City area, “which includes parts of Morningside (neighborhood in Sioux City), Sergeant Bluff, Salix and Bronson, basically.”

The race has generated a good amount of “early” votes, according to the county auditor.

“On Saturday, the (Woodbury County) Courthouse and out at Morningside Bible Church where we had a satellite site, we had about 300 people vote, so that was pretty impressive,” Gill says. “It was definitely worth the effort.”

This is the first election in Iowa to be conducted under the new rules of the state’s new “voter verification” law.

“It’s a soft roll-out,” Gill says. “Folks will have to produce an ID, but if they don’t have one for this election, they’ll just have to simply sign an affidavit saying they are who they claim to be.”

The candidates competing for the House seat are Republican Jacob Bossman, an aide to Senator Chuck Grassley, and Democrat Rita DeJong, a retired principal. There’s been a flurry of activity in this three-week special election campaign, with spending from outside groups like Americans for Prosperity and campaigning in the district by most of the Democratic candidates for governor.

Call goes out again for blood donors as supply drops

While many government offices are closed today, LifeServe is open and holding blood drives at several Iowa locations on this Martin Luther King Junior holiday as blood supplies are getting dangerously low.

Danielle West, spokeswoman for the Des Moines-based LifeServe, says December and January are typically the worst months of the year for donations as so many people are on vacation, traveling or the weather’s bad.

“We want to remind people how important it is to give blood because the need at hospitals is still the same no matter how many donors are coming out,” West says. “We’re definitely seeing our blood supply go lower and lower than we’d like it to be so we’re reminding people to come out and donate if they can.” While donations are needed of all blood types, West says a few types in particular are more urgently sought.

“O-negative is the universal blood type so anyone can receive O-negative, and O-positive is the universal positive blood type,” West says. “Those are usually the most critical but really all of our blood types are lower right now than we’d like them to be.” Donating a single pint of blood may help save the lives of as many as three hospital patients. Iowans shouldn’t be too concerned about the amount of time they’ll have to commit to donating a pint.

“You can be in and out in 45 minutes to an hour and that’s from start to finish,” West says. “Really, the donation process where you’re actually on the chair is five to ten minutes total. You start with registration, we do a short questionaire, a mini-physical, you’re in the chair for five to ten minutes and then we have snacks and goodies at the end of every donation.”

LifeServe has offices in Ames, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Mason City, Marshalltown and Sioux City, and serves hospitals across Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“We partner with around 120 hospitals which means we are their sole provider and they only get blood products from LifeServe,” West says. “If we don’t have what we need on our shelves to support them, we have to go find it elsewhere, which is not what we like to do or where we’d like to be.”

To schedule an appointment, call 800-287-4903 or visit www.lifeservebloodcenter.org.

Eight more flu deaths confirmed in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed 8 more flu-related deaths — bringing the total confirmed since October to 14.

The deaths reported were four women and one man in central Iowa, two women in southwest Iowa, and one man in eastern Iowa. The average age of those who died was 85, and five of the eight who died from the flu had other underlying health conditions.

In at recent interview on the flu situation, Health Department medical director Doctor Patricia Quinlisk says getting the flu vaccine is still the best way to combat the flu. There were reports early in the flu season that the vaccine is not as effective as it could be, but she says it still provides a lot of protection.

“Somewhere between 30 and 70 percent of stopping you from getting seriously ill,” Quinlisk says. “But it’s not going to stop every sniffle, it won’t, but it will still give you protection. It might mean that rather than being hospitalized you won’t be hospitalized. Rather than being sick for seven days, you’ll only be sick for three days.”

The Health Department says the predominant flu strain this season is AH3N2, which typically causes serious illnesses, hospitalizations and even death, particularly for those who are very young or old and those with weakened immune systems.

Doctor Quinlisk says getting kids vaccinated is important for them and others. “Children tend to be the major spreader of these viruses in our communities. Therefore by vaccinating our children we’re actually protecting the whole community — including grandma at the nursing home — because we stop the spread of the virus,”Quinlisk explains.

Flu symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches There are a lot of other illnesses going around and Quinlisk offers some advice to know if you might have the flu.

“Basically what I tell people, is if you have symptoms below the neck , you’ve got a fever, you’ve’ got aches and pains, you’re so tired it’s hard to get out of bed — that’s a pretty good indication that you need to stay home. You probably have something more than just a mild cold,” according to Quinlisk. “But if all you have is symptoms above the neck — a little bit of a runny nose, maybe a little bit of a sore throat, but otherwise you feel fine — you are probably okay to go to work.”

Quinlisk says it’s important to contact your health care provider as soon as possible after flu symptoms begin, especially if you are at high risk of complications and serious disease. Anti-viral medications given within a day or two of when your symptoms start can help cut the severity of the flu. And whether you have the flu or another illness, Quinlisk says follow the three C’s.

“Make sure you cover your cough, clean your hands and you contain your germs by staying at home when you are ill,” she says. Temperatures have dropped once again to below freezing. Quinlisk says the cold weather forces people to stay in side closer to each other and that can increase the spread of the flu.

“The other thing it does is it lowers the humidity in the air, which dries out our nasal mucosa and the back of our throats, and that makes it easier for those viruses to invade into your body and make you sick,” according to Quinlisk. “That’s why it’s really important this time of year to keep hydrated, drink plenty of fluids and to keep your house humidified keep that humidity in your house high enough that you fight off those viruses.”

For more information on the flu visit the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website.

Board of Health approves medical marijuana rules

The State Board of Health approved the rules for the manufacture and sale of medical marijuana during its meeting Wednesday.

 The director for the medical marijuana program Randy Mayer says the rules approved by the board had a few changes based on feedback from the single company that has been licensed to make the product.

“They were very specific about some things that could make their operations a little easier and a little bit cheaper,” Mayer “So we did accept a lot of their comments and make some changes about how they operate and what their security looks like and things like that to make it a little easier and less expensive for them.” Mayer says with the rules now in place, they can move to the next step.

“The next big project that we will be working on is licensing the five — up to five dispensaries — that would be selling the products to the patients and their primary caregivers across the state,” Mayer says. MedPharm Iowa was the only company to complete the licensing process to grow marijuana and manufacture cannabis oil here after nine companies had expressed interest.

Mayer expects there to be interest in the dispensary licenses, even though it is going to take some work to get the business going.

“We only have about 250 patients and primary caregivers registered right now, it’s going to take a number of years to build that patient base,” Mayer says. “So there are some fees associated with running dispensary and somebody’s going to have to have substantial collateral I think to get a dispensary running while waiting for the patient base to get built up to where I think it is going to start being profitable for them.”

The director of the Health Department says the manufacturer of medical marijuana is going to have to pay around $200,000 in fees. Mayer says dispensaries will also have to put up a lot of money for their license, as they estimate the fees to be in the range of $120,000 or so per year. The companies will be required to pay a $7,500 application fee, and pay a $10,000 bond for each background investigation of the company owners. The state will pay the company a refund if the background investigation costs less. They will also have to pay a $200 deposit on background check fees for each employee of the company.

Mayer says they will release the application for dispensaries in the last week of January and he says this may be the only time a company has a chance to receive a license. “We anticipate that unless someone is issued a license and they return it to us — or for some reason they fail to follow the rules — we won’t refuse to renew a license for one of those licensees,” according to Mayer. ” So, I think that people understand that you need to get the license up front when we are offering it at this point.”

The manufacturing company by law is supposed to have the product ready for sale by December 1st 2018. “That’s probably the earliest that we will have product available for people to start purchasing. I know a lot of people are waiting for that date, so I think that that’s an important message to get out,” Mayer says. A state representative who is a pharmacists says there are some estimates that it will cost the state one million dollars to implement the medical marijuana plan.

Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces 2018 class

The 2018 inductees for the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have been released.

Cindy Stanbro, executive director of the Iowa Rock and Roll Museum in Arnolds Park, says it’s a long list of bands, musicians, singers, deejays and others, which includes: “David Ellefson, The Nadas, Marilyn Maye, The Bushmen, Rob Lumbard, Buckeye, Crusin’, Rick Hillyard, A Stitch ‘n Tyme, The Torkays, Lavendar Hill Band, The El Riadas and Dean Davis, who’s getting a Lifetime Achievement Award.”

More than 320 artists have been inducted into the Iowa Hall since its inception more than 20 years ago. Stanbro explains how inductees are picked, once they’re nominated.

“They have to have at least 25 years experience in the industry and have made a significant impact,” Stanbro says. “The board of directors gets together and we review all the submissions and we look at the influence they’ve had on other artists, their length of career, regional and national tours, success of recordings, and how they’ve impacted rock-n-roll music in Iowa.”

Tickets for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction celebration will go on sale in March. The event is scheduled for September 1st and 2nd in Arnolds Park. Learn more at www.iowarocknroll.com.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)

Warm weather set to give way to snow and ice

Parts of Iowa will see high temperatures in the low 50s this afternoon, but highs Friday may only be in the teens.

A cold front is approaching that promises to drop up to six inches of snow on areas of the state. Meteorologist Mindy Beerends, at the National Weather Service, says the rain will gradually change to freezing rain and then to snow as the storm system progresses.

“The snow’s going to start moving into west and northwestern portions of Iowa late tonight and will continue that transition from northwest to southeast through the morning on Thursday,” Beerends says. “The heaviest band of snow we’re expecting is somewhere in west-central Iowa up through portions of north-central Iowa.” She says residents in several counties and communities need to prepare for another round of slippery snow.

“The heaviest band we’re looking at should fall in west-central Iowa up through north-central Iowa, somewhere along a Denison to Fort Dodge to Algona to Forest City line,” she says. “At this time, they’re looking at four to six inches.” Depending on how quickly the storm system moves, a wide section of western and central Iowa could be getting whalloped with rain, freezing rain and snow during Thursday’s busy morning commute.

“There will be a transition period where roads could get icy as much colder temperatures move in and a period of light snowfall,” Beerends says. “Even during that time, with the strong winds that are expected, there could be difficulty with travel even in regions that aren’t expecting the heavier snowfall.” With such warm weather today, most of the snow will melt and the roads will be wet and slushy, setting up potential driving hazards when the much-colder air arrives.

“We’re still looking in that timeframe of late tonight up through Thursday and definitely the morning commute in most locations, especially the western half of the state, could have problems,” Beerends says. “I encourage everybody to take it slow in areas where visibility could be reduced and suspend travel, if needed.” See an updated forecast at weather.gov.

State files lawsuit against former Sioux City recycler

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has filed a lawsuit against a former Sioux City council member who owned several defunct electronic waste recycling businesses.

The lawsuit alleges Aaron Rochester and his companies, Recycletronics, Siouxland PC, and The Name Ministries, illegally dumped and stored waste at licensed and unlicensed locations in Sioux City, Akron and South Sioux City, Nebraska.

The lawsuit says Rochester and his companies collected waste disposal fees and then illegally stored or disposed of millions of pounds of electronic components, including hazardous waste. Information in the suit says the properties in Iowa contain more than 12 million pounds of electronic waste and another 4.5 million pounds at two sites in Nebraska.

It also says that Rochester and his former business owe the state more than $75,000 for a 2011 loan for equipment used to recycle electronic waste.

(Story and photo by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)

Governor Reynolds calls for tax changes, outlines budget proposals

Governor Kim Reynolds.

Governor Kim Reynolds began this year’s “Condition of the State” address by acknowledging she’s the first female among Iowa’s 42 governors to deliver the annual speech.

“What a country and state we live in, where a small town girl from rural Iowa can become governor and have the opportunity to serve Iowans at the highest level,” Reynolds said. “I hope that can be an inspiration to every waitress, every grocery checker, every overworked and stressed out mom, and the little girls who dare to dream: In Iowa, if you’re willing to work for it, those dreams can come true.”

Reynolds also mentioned the “#MeToo” movement, praising women who’ve “found the courage” to report sexual harassment.

“Throughout history, sexual harassment has been a stain on our culture, a destructive force—in politics, media and entertainment, in workplaces large and small—in all facets of life. And it must stop,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds called on “all of us in public office” to serve as models for the public and private sector.

“As a woman, a mother of three girls, a grandmother, wife, sister, and daughter, I understand we’re at an unprecedented moment in time,” Reynolds said. “I also understand that this is not a partisan issue. It can’t be fixed by legislation or rule-making alone. You cannot legislate kindness or respect or morality. They must be taught. And that means the solution starts with every individual, man or woman.”

Reynolds used her speech to hail Republican initiatives passed in the 2017 legislature, like the changes in Iowa’s collective bargaining law. Then Reynolds sketched out what she described as “unfinished business” in the GOP agenda.

Reynolds called on legislators to make passage of a plan providing more state tax dollars for water quality projects their first priority.

“Improving water quality is a shared goal of Iowans.  Urban and rural stakeholders have worked collaboratively making great strides,” Reynolds said. “My hope is that a water quality bill is the first piece of legislation I sign as Governor.”

Next on the list: tax policy. She’s calling for an end a controversial state tax deduction for federal taxes. It makes Iowa’s top income tax rate look higher than it actually is when compared to most other states. Most other states do not have the deduction.

The governor released a proposed state spending plan for the coming year as well as cuts in the current year’s state budget. Her recommendation is that Iowa’s public K-12 schools get a 1.5 percent boost in general state aid, along with $35 million dollars to use as the schools wish. The $35 million annual allotment had been reserved for efforts to reduce class sizes in the early grades and state law does not call for the allotment to be included in the next state budgeting year.

Reynolds message: ‘dream big…anything can happen’

Governor Kim Reynolds. (file photo)

History will be made in the Iowa Capitol today when Kim Reynolds becomes the first female governor to deliver the annual “Condition of the State” address.

Reynolds told reporters yesterday she’ll emphasize that when you “challenge yourself, big things can happen.”

“It’s more about acknowledging that, you know, as a small town girl from rural Iowa, if you dream big and work hard, anything can happen,” Reynolds said during a statehouse news conference, “and I think that applies to anybody.”

This will be the third major speech Reynolds has delivered since she took over as governor in late May. Over the past several weeks, Reynolds has said she’ll use today’s address to unveil the “broad ideas” she has for tax cuts.

“Delivering my vision for not only tax reform, but for Iowa moving forward,” Reynolds said Monday.

Reynolds has been arguing cutting the state’s income tax rate will make Iowa more competitive. She’s also been promising to focus the tax relief on “working class families.”

“We ought to do everything we can to make sure they can keep more of their hard-earned money,” Reynolds told reporters on Monday. “People are working hard and what I still here is they’re struggling to make ends meet.”

Reynolds has hinted water quality and developing a more skilled Iowa workforce are among the other “pressing issues” she’ll discuss today. The annual “Condition of the State” address also requires a look back at 2017 and Reynolds has been telling crowds these are “exciting and critical times for Iowa.”

“We have a great story to tell,” Reynolds said yesterday. “Iowa has so much capacity and opportunity within our borders.”

Republican legislative leaders have been talking about reducing Iowa’s income taxes and an analysis obtained by a blogger indicated the GOP would like to phase out the state inheritance tax as well. Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix said yesterday that voters sent Republicans to Des Moines to cut taxes.

“Tax relief is about emboldening our middle class and encouraging our citizens to invest in themselves, their local businesses and in our state,” Dix said yesterday during a speech on the legislature’s opening day.

Democrats in the legislative warn against mimicing the 2012 tax cut package in Kansas that’s left a current 900 million dollar state budget deficiet there.

“It would be irresponsible for Iowa to go down that road. Iowans want us to make wise decisions to improve our state. We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of others,” Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, said during her opening day speech in the Iowa Senate.

3 nominated for district associate judge position

SIOUX CITY | Three Sioux City lawyers have been nominated to fill the upcoming district associate judge vacancy.

The Woodbury County Magistrate Nominating Commission chose Mark Cord, David Dawson and Matthew Pittenger from the 12 applicants.

The district judges of the Iowa Judicial Subdistrict 3B will meet to select one of the three nominees for the position, which will become vacant in February when District Associate Judge Timothy Jarman retires.
District associate judges hear serious and aggravated misdemeanor cases, small claims, hospitalization cases as well as juvenile cases and civil suits for judgment of up to $10,000.

New effort tries to help farmers hit by opioid addiction

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A recent study finds opioid addiction is hitting farm families much harder than the rest of rural America and a new outreach campaign is targeting

A recent study finds opioid addiction is hitting farm families much harder than the rest of rural America and a new outreach campaign is targeting those populations in Iowa and elsewhere.

Will Rodger, director of policy communication for the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the research found 74% of farmers and ranchers may have a problem themselves or they know someone who’s already hooked.

Rodger says, “Most of them are going to know somebody who is strung out on drugs or who is trying to get clean, one way or the other.” The survey by the Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union found that rural adults do recognize opioid abuse can start accidentally with the use of what are deemed as “safe” painkillers.

“We’re not talking about recreational drugs,” Rodger says. “We’re talking about folks who have fallen into addiction through little or no fault of their own. They got injured, they started on a course of opioids and for whatever reason, whether it’s bad treatment or genetic susceptibility or a combination of the two, they’ve gotten to the point that they can’t get off the drugs.” The campaign called “Farm Town Strong” provides resources for those in rural America who need help battling opioid addiction.

“It puts together a number of resources that people can turn to so that if they do have an addiction problem or know someone who does, they can get ahold of people who can give them treatment, help them with prevention, folks who can serve as sounding boards so they can figure out what their next step needs to be to get well again,” Rodger says.

The leaders of the Farm Bureau and the Farmers Union are holding discussions on overcoming the opioid crisis at the bureau’s annual convention, underway through Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee.

(Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)