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Grassley says EPA ‘screwed’ farmers with biofuels exemptions

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) — Sen. Charles Grassley says farmers were “screwed” by the Trump administration’s decision to allow some refineries to not blend ethanol with gasoline as required under federal law.

During a taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program Friday, Grassley was asked his thoughts on 31 refinery exemptions the Environmental Protection Agency issued for 2018 and approved after a review last week. He responded: “They screwed us.”

President Donald Trump promised farmers , who largely supported him in the 2016 election, he would support ethanol production. The fuel is primarily made from corn.

Industry groups say the additional exemptions reduced biofuel demand by 1 billion gallons. They say previous exemptions the last two years reduced demand by 2.6 billion gallons.

Some in the industry blame the policy for recent biofuels plant closures.


Leader of largest US organic food fraud gets 10-year term

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A judge has sentenced the mastermind of the largest organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history to 10 years in prison, saying he cheated thousands of customers into buying products they didn’t want.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams said Friday that Randy Constant was responsible for a massive fraud that did “extreme and incalculable damage” to consumers and shook public confidence in the nation’s organic food industry.

Williams ordered Constant, a 60-year-old farmer from Chillicothe, Missouri, to serve 122 months in federal prison.

Earlier in the day, Williams also gave shorter prison terms to three Overton, Nebraska, farmers who were part of the scheme.

The four admitted that they grew non-organic corn and soybeans, and a small amount of certified organic grains, and falsely marketed them all as certified organic.


No indictment for Union Pacific railroad officer in shooting

(Information from: Globe Gazette,

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A grand jury has found no criminal wrongdoing by a Union Pacific railroad officer for the November shooting of a Mason City man.

Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen tells the Globe Gazette that the grand jury opted not to indict Union Pacific Special Agent Louis Miner after convening this week.

State investigators say Miner stopped Nathan Lee Olson for trespassing on UP property on Nov. 29 and an altercation ensued before Miner shot Olson near a railroad crossing in Mason City. Police have not said whether Olson was armed when he was shot.

Olson was hospitalized for about two months following the shooting.

Union Pacific Railroad, based in Omaha, Nebraska, employs certified police officers to patrol its properties across the Midwest.



Northeastern Nebraska police officer cleared in shooting

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) — A grand jury has cleared a South Sioux City police officer of any criminal wrongdoing in a shootout that left the officer wounded and the suspect dead.

Sioux City, Iowa, television station KCAU reports that the grand jury made the finding Friday.

The decision came in the case of Officer Brian Van Berkum, who confronted Luis Quinones Rosa outside a bar in May because Rosa matched the description of a man who had been seen with a gun. Investigators say Rosa shot first at Van Berkum, striking the officer in a leg and abdomen.

Van Berkum returned the fire, hitting Rosa in a leg. Rosa was found unresponsive later in a nearby vehicle and taken to the hospital, where he died.

Van Berkum underwent surgery, and has since recovered and returned to work.


Eastern Iowa officials investigate cemetery vandalism

(Information from: KCRG-TV,

MANCHESTER, Iowa (AP) — Police in the eastern Iowa city of Manchester are investigating the vandalism of a cemetery there.

Television station KCRG reports that nearly 30 headstones were found damaged or broken in Oakland Cemetery in Manchester.

Police say in a post on the department’s Facebook page that they suspect the vandalism was carried out Thursday night. In all, 29 headstones were damaged.

No arrests have been reported. Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call police.



Iowa unemployment rate rises slightly to 2.5%

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s unemployment rate climbed slightly in July to 2.5% but remains among the lowest in the nation.

Iowa Workforce Development announced Friday that the unemployment rate rose from 2.4% in June. The rate had been stuck at that level since July 2018.

Although the unemployment rate increased, the number of residents with jobs also rose by about 4,000 compared to June. The number of unemployed residents increased by about 1,400.

Iowa’s unemployment rate was third-lowest in the nation, behind Vermont and North Dakota and tied with New Hampshire.

The national unemployment rate in July was 3.7%.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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