The Iowa Corn Growers Association will be working with lawmakers during the Iowa Legislature's 2011 session. ICGA wants the legislators to maintain funding for programs important to Iowa corn growers and ICGA will be monitoring any policy or legislative proposals that could negatively affect farmers.
"This year we know the state budget and government spending are going to be an issue," says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, ICGA's director of government relations. "Our goal will be to maintain funding for issues important to our corn growers and to protect our existing agricultural tax credits as well as maintain funding and support for programs such as the Renewable Fuels Standard."
In late August, grassroots representatives from ICGA membership gathered at their annual policy conference in Des Moines and reinstated expiring ICGA policies and adopted some new policies. The grassroots delegation held discussions on key policy issues that are emerging at the state and federal levels, such as carbon, climate change and indirect land use.
Several issues are listed as key ICGA priorities in 2011
Support for Iowa livestock farmers: ICGA is committed to a healthy Iowa livestock industry and ICGA works with other farm groups to make sure legislation affecting livestock production is responsible, reasonable and science-based. Livestock is corn's largest customer, and a healthy livestock industry is essential to the Iowa economy.
Budget and agricultural taxes: With state government considering budget cuts this year, ICGA will be working to maintain agricultural related tax incentives or credits. ICGA expects budget discussions will be a major part of the 2011 Iowa Legislative session and will be working on behalf of farmers in Iowa on agricultural issues.
Ethanol infrastructure: Iowa's Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Fund assists fuel retailers in upgrading their facilities so they can sell E85, install blender pumps or help with biodiesel infrastructure. ICGA is committed to maintain or expand the state's Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Fund. This program provides an opportunity for retailers to upgrade their infrastructure through cost-sharing grants of up to 70% from the state government.
Ethanol Tax Credits and Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard: 2010 was the second year in the implementation schedule for Iowa's 25% Renewable Fuels Standard. ICGA is committed to maintaining the long-term integrity of the program with a goal of 25% Iowa renewable fuels being used per year in the state over the long term. If allowed to work, the 25% Iowa RFS will take Iowa to an average 25% renewable fuels use by 2019.
Commercial Nitrogen Application: Iowa farmers have made measurable progress in soil conservation and water quality in recent years. According to USDA data, farmers' use of nitrogen and phosphorus per bushel has been drastically reduced over the past 25 years. ICGA is committed to allowing commercial nitrogen application based on sound science and agronomic practices and not through state regulations.
The entire 2010-2011 policy resolution handbook is posted online at www.iowacorn.org.
Soybean Association also keeps tabs on Iowa Legislature
The Iowa Soybean Association issued the following report last week, regarding the first week of the session of the 2011 Iowa Legislature.
For the 84th session, Sen. Mike Gronstal remains the majority leader in the Senate and Sen. Jack Kibbie returns as Senate president. Sen. Paul McKinley is returning as the Republican minority leader. In the Iowa House, Representative Kraig Paulsen is the Speaker, and Representative Linda Upmeyer will serve as the first female majority leader in the Iowa House of Representatives. Upmeyer's father was Del Stromer, former Speaker of the House. Representative Kevin McCarthy will continue to lead the Democrats as the minority lader. Gov. Chet Culver's term ran through the first week of session. He delivered his last Condition of the State speech on Tuesday of last week. Of interest, part of his speech included his proposed legislation to deal with food safety as it related to last summer's massive egg recall in Iowa. Governor-elect Terry Branstad was sworn in on Fri., Jan. 14. HIs administration will be an integral part of what happens with Culver's proposed egg regulations.
2011 session will focus on state budget, and spending cuts
The 84th General Assembly is set to focus on the budget, including spending cuts and the economy. There will be some social push to impeach the remaining four Iowa Supreme Court Justices, but it is not anticipated that any effort in this would be successful. Redistricting will also be a priority this session. Every 10 years the state redraws the House and Senate districts to allow for population shifts based on the U.S. Census. Iowa uses a nonpartisan process developed by the Legislative Service Bureau that the Senate approves. Of special note, due to redistricting, Iowa will lose one U.S. Congressional district. Mark Cady, who is now the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, gave the Condition of the Judiciary Speech last Wednesday. Due to the November retention election results, the Iowa Supreme Court has three vacancies, with Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, and Justices David Baker and Michael Streit leaving the court.
Departmental appointments, and several new bills introduced
Departmental appointments: Gov. Branstad has made a number of appointments to head departments and agencies; Sen. Larry Noble to head DPS, former Secretary of State Michael Mauro to be the next Labor Commissioner, Jason Glass (DOE), Jim Schipper (Banking Superintendent), Donna Harvey (DOA), Mike Carroll (DAS), Jodi Tymeson (Department of Veterans' Affairs), Linda Lantor Fantell (special assistant for Education), Debi Dunham (Office of Energy Independence/DED), Isaiah McGee (DHR), Brenna Findlay (legal counsel), Roger Lande (DNR), Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (DPH), Chuck Palmer (DHS), Teresa Wahlert (DWD), Rod Roberts (DIA), Dave Jamison (IFA) and Dave Roederer (DOM).
Introduced bills: HF 10 ELECTRICIAN LICENSING REPEAL (Pettengill, et al; 14 Republicans) Repeals the state licensing of electricians and restores the previous system. Requires the refund of pro-rated fees. (State Government) Also, SF 12 RESIDENTIAL BURNING BAN (Bolkcom) requires the EPC to adopt rules banning the burning of residential waste in cities and within a 1/4 mile of the city. Requires the rules to be in effect for cities over 2,500 by January 2012, over 1,000 by January 2013, over 500 by January 2014, and for all cities by January 2015. (Natural Resources) Black (C), Bolkcom, Sorenson
For more specific details about a specific bill, to go to www.legis.state.ia.us and click on "track legislation" at the left, then type in the bill number.