Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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April 10, 2010

Sullivan’s Salvos 4/13/10

In this edition:

*Opening Day
*Taxes Are Not Bad!
*County Health Rankings
*The Future of Farming
*Hospice Walk
*Did You Know?

*Opening Day
Opening Day has arrived! I love baseball, and I am not above having the stereotypically silly conversations about it. So I will not subject Salvos readers to much baseball writing. But if you ever want to discuss the topic, give me a shout!

*Taxes Are Not Bad!
April 15 is Tax Day, and there will undoubtedly be a couple protests by people who feel government and taxes are bad.

I do not agree. I believe that government and taxes are GOOD! Here is a quick list of just a few of the many things you get in exchange for your tax dollars:

Police; fire; ambulance; clean air; clean water; sewage disposal and treatment; safe food; safe drugs; safe consumer products; Centers for Disease Control; food labeling; safe buildings, roads and bridges; air traffic control; national defense; services for veterans; college loans; parks; Meals on Wheels; Head Start; Social Security; unemployment insurance; Medicare; Medicaid; public education; school lunches; FDIC; FEMA; OSHA; overtime; access to courts… I could go on for hours.

Needless to say, governments are not always efficient and effective. The same can be said of private enterprises. I remain convinced that we get a bargain when we pay our taxes.

*County Health Rankings
Johnson County is the 7th healthiest county in Iowa according to a study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin.

Every county in the US was ranked on several health-related aspects: Health Behaviors; Clinical Care; Social and Economic Factors; and Physical Environment.

The results for Johnson County were very interesting. We ranked #1 in several areas: Mortality; Health Behaviors; and Clinical Care. We ranked #2 (behind Story County) in Social and Economic Factors. Obviously, these results are outstanding!

There was one area that kept us from the top spot: Physical Environment. We ranked #82 in this category! We ranked OK in terms of recreational opportunities, but we got very poor marks in two specific areas: access to alcohol and air quality.

Obviously, all these different rankings select different criteria, and weight them all differently. But we should not ignore this study. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation does top-notch work in this area. What’s more, binge drinking and air quality are two items that the Johnson County Board of Health has chosen as areas of focus. So experts seem to agree.

We know we have some work to do in a couple of areas. I am confident that the Johnson County Department of Public Health will make strides in these areas. I urge you to find out how you can help them! Meanwhile, check out the results for yourself at

*The Future of Farming
I had the opportunity to attend the Chamber of Commerce Ag Breakfast series a couple of weeks ago, and it was a thought-provoking session!

Three local folks involved in ag-related industries predicted the future of agriculture in Johnson County and elsewhere. The panelists were Jeff Quint with Cedar Ridge Winery near Swisher; Mark Stutsman with Stutsman, Inc. in Hills; and Mike Klauke with Syngenta near Lone Tree.

All of the men expected farming to move two directions simultaneously: an expansion of very small farmers (5-10 acres) producing local food, and a consolidation of farms into huge 20,000-30,000 acre operations. In both scenarios, the “average” Iowa farmer, who owns about 350 acres, will be a thing of the past.

As the scale of production increases, more work will become mechanized. The experts expect “drones” to be programmed to plant and harvest fields, eliminating the need for tractors and combines to have drivers. Stutsman said the day is coming when Iowa may only have 4-5 implement dealers in the whole state; when I was a kid, every other small town had an implement dealer!

Similarly, they expect an increase in contracts for crops. Now farmers grow a crop such as corn, then decide when and where to sell it. The experts predict that in 25-30 years, farmers will be planting and raising a specific end product, such as “starch” or “protein”. The farmers will not own the land, nor the seed, nor the crop. They will just be employees of large corporations, who own the product at each level of production. This type of “verticality” has already infiltrated the swine industry, with some devastating results.

Panelists noted that there are trade offs; Iowa’s farms will need to become more productive to feed a growing world population. Unfortunately, the impending loss of on-farm jobs may devastate rural America.

While the predictions may seem very grim, all the panelists expressed faith in the ability of the people of Johnson County to protect our land, our small towns, and our people.

*RVAP Events
Each April, the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a host of activities. Below is a link to the calendar of events. Additional information can be found at

*Hospice Walk
You are invited to the 11th Annual Iowa City Hospice Walk for Dignity Sunday, April 18 at 1 PM at Willow Creek Park in Iowa City.

Join the McDonald’s, this year’s Honorary Family, to celebrate the lives and honor the memories of loved ones, and to show support for Iowa City Hospice.

Visit or contact Margaret Reese at 688-4219 for more information.

DID YOU KNOW? Iowa's ag income in 2008 was over $20 billion. (Source: Iowa Secretary of Ag Bill Northey.)

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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