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2013 Legislative Priorities

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 12:10 PM by Iowa Corn

The Iowa Legislature adjourned and the session ended on Thursday, May 23. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) reported on various state legislative issues since the beginning of the session in January.  The ICGA’s legislative priority issues for 2013 are summarized below.  ICGA also supported various other bills throughout the session.

Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy: SF 435 (State)
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations bill, SF 435, was signed into law by Governor Branstad on June 17. Of particular interest to corn growers, SF 435 includes $22.4 million to implement voluntary practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy: $2.4 million to IDALS for general use, $10 million for targeted watershed use (70% to impaired/high priority watersheds), $3 million to the watershed improvement review board (WIRB), and an additional $7 million (over base funding) for the backlog of conservation cost share projects. Funding for the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is also included in the State Bond Repayment Fund Bill, HF 648. ICGA has supported the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and advocated for the highest possible funding levels. "This strategy is the first in the nation and the ICGA applauds legislators on supporting voluntary, science-based strategies," says Bruce Rohwer, a farmer from Paullina and ICGA president. "For this program to be successful we need farmer participation. We are excited to help corn farmers continue investing in conservation by looking at ways to improve their current practices and those of their farmer neighbors."

Also included in SF 435 was $1.62 million to fund the closure of agriculture drainage wells, $6 million for conservation cost share funding (for farmers), $3.4 million for ISU vet lab, $1 million for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), $1 million for watershed protection, $1 million for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), $2.9 million for water quality monitoring (program, not farmer cost-share).

Iowa Corn Promotion Board: SF 452 (State)
The standing appropriations bill conference report, SF 452, was signed into law by Governor Branstad on June 20. SF 452 includes some of the changes to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB) structure which were previously included in SF 310. The number of ICPB directors is dictated per the Iowa Code in Chapter 185C. SF 452 maintains the current election process of farmers electing farmers to the ICPB, but the Board would change to one director from each crop reporting district and three executive committee members to create a 12 person board, reducing the board by 5. In addition to 12 voting members, four ex-officio members would continue to serve on the ICPB, including the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship (IDALS), the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University, and two corn purchasing representatives currently collecting the checkoff. The Iowa Economic Development Authority, a former ex-officio, is agreeable to participating at the Iowa Corn committee level, instead of having a Board seat. Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) supported the changes to the ICPB structure.

Board Structure Changes: 
Note that while not a part of Senate File 452, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) Board will also consist of a 12 person board with three executive officers. In addition to 12 voting members, two ex-officio members would continue to serve on the ICGA Board, including the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. The ICGA is not required to make board structure changes through Iowa statute, as it is a nonprofit organization, whereas the ICPB was created by Iowa law in 1977.

Increased Grassroots Involvement:
A goal of restructuring the ICPB is to increase grassroots involvement in Iowa Corn's state committees to allow even more corn grower involvement in activities of the ICPB and ICGA. The revised Board structure will provide greater involvement opportunities for farmers at the local level, increasing grassroots participation through existing local corn associations, expanding new local corn associations, and creating district corn groups.

Agricultural Research at ISU: HF 648 (State)
HF 648, was signed into law by Governor Branstad on June 20. Included in this bill of interest to the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and other ag partners is funding for agricultural research at Iowa State University (ISU). The ISU bioeconomy research achieved the additional $7.5 million in funding as advocated by ag groups. The veterinary diagnostics laboratory received an additional $525,000 over base funding. ISU Extension and outreach received an additional $330,000 over base funding. The ag experiment station received funding at the same level as last year.

Fuel Supplies and Ethanol Fuel Tax Differential: HF 640 (State)
HF 640 was signed into law by Governor Branstad on June 20. HF 640 extends the ethanol fuel tax differential until July 2014. The current law expires this summer, and so is in need of extension; the law provides up to a 2-cent fuel tax benefit for any ethanol blended fuel, including E85, E15, E10 and anything in-between. The bill deals with contract language for fuel sales, fuel liability provisions, and eligibility for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for ethanol sales. The bill also addresses fuel tanks on farms, by increasing the number of gallons on farms that are required to be registered/regulated under Iowa law. The amounts that trigger registration are 2,000 gallons for flammable liquids and 5,000 gallons for combustible liquids. Iowa Corn Growers Association supported this bill.

CAFO Mothballed Buildings Bill: HF 512 (State)
HF 512 (companion to SF 418) was signed into law by Governor Branstad on May 15. HF 512 allows the operator of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) to elect for the CAFO to be classified as a small animal feeding operation based on the number of animals housed at the CAFO. Under HF 512, if there are fewer than 500 animal units housed in the CAFO during an annual Manure Management Plan (MMP) filing period, the operation would no longer be required to pay compliance fees or file an updated MMP. If a confinement operation elects to be a small animal feeding operation, the requirement (established in 2002) that a confinement feeding operation's animal unit capacity includes all buildings except those that have been abandoned (torn down or modified so that significant reconstruction would be required to use the building again for livestock) does not apply. This bill was supported by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, and Iowa Corn Growers Association supported the bill.

Fuel Tax Increase (State)
Increasing funding for Iowa's roads and bridges, in the form of a fuel tax increase, was one of Iowa Corn Growers Association's (ICGA) top state-level priority this legislative session. However, the issue was not taken up by the legislature. ICGA will continue to work on this issue in the 2014 legislative session.

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