The Legislature’s top leader says lawmakers should get an earful this weekend at home as folks weigh in about a property tax plan touted by the Farm Bureau. That plan would do away with Tax Increment Financing districts that are used by cities to foster development, and instead would set a statewide tax rate. House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City says Farm Bureau members, city council members, economic development leaders and others will likely approach lawmakers this weekend to ask questions about the plan. Rants expects the weekend public forums legislators attend to be “loud and boisterous.” Rants hasn’t made up his mind yet as to whether the Farm Bureau plan is right for his community.
The Iowa Farm Bureau and Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture were noticeably absent from the ceremony as Governor Tom Vilsack signed the livestock bill into law this morning. The Farm Bureau criticized the legislation, saying it might force some smaller farmers out of business, but Aaron Putze, a spokesman for the group, says their absence today should not be considered a protest.Putze says the bill was made more workable and practical than when discussions first started, but he says livestock producers will still face more regulation.Putze says the Farm Bureau will now press to stress “sound science” rather than social concerns when the rules are written to implement the law.One of the Farm Bureau’s main objections was the “per animal” fee which will be instituted to finance regulation of the livestock industry. Putze says many producers feel it’s another tax on their business that they’ll have to account for as they work to remain profitable.Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge, another critic of the bill, did not attend today’s ceremony either.
About two hundred Iowa Farm Bureau members have converged on the statehouse today, lobbying against a bill that’d toughen state regulations for the livestock industry. Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Lang says the Farm Bureau doesn’t want to kill the bill, but wants major changes that’d let the livestock industry and tourism co-exist. Lang says they know it’s a “pressure cooker issue” and there has to be a resolution. But he says they don’t want a resolution that drives farmers out of business. The Farm Bureau contends the new regulations, including a “tax” on every head of livestock in a large confinement facility, would drive small and medium-sized pork producers out of business. Lang also says the bill gives too much weight to social concerns and “what’s good for the neighborhood.” Lang, who is a dairy farmer from Brooklyn, says too often, personal preferences get in the way of sound judgment when it comes to where confinements should and shouldn’t be built. The Farm Bureau’s pressing legislators to base decisions solely on “science-based” environmental information. Meanwhile, Governor Tom Vilsack says the bipartisan deal that’d expand state regulations for livestock units doesn’t go far enough. The proposal would allow local officials to review where large-scale livestock facilities might be built, but give state officials the power to make the final decision. Vilsack says county and city officials’ recommendations should be given some additional weight when state Department of Natural Resources officials make their decision. Vilsack says the D-N-R can now say a facility meets the requirements and approve it without any voice from the local community. He says that gives rise to problems. Vilsack says legislators should have a little more confidence in local folks.
The American Farm Bureau Federation says today is a significant milestone in the production of food in the United States. This is the day the Farm Bureau Federation says a typical family in the United States has earned enough money to pay their food bill for the entire year. Iowa Farm Bureau spokesman Aaron Putzee says the time we spend working to put food on the table has declined considerably — from 91 days in 1930 to just 40 days now.Putzee says while food costs have gone down, more needs to be done to increase the profits for the farmers who supply that food.He says Iowa continues to produce much of the food consumed in the U-S.While it takes 40 days to earn enough to pay your yearly food bill, Putzee says it takes 129 days of work to pay your yearly tax bill.
The Iowa Farm Buereau Federation is donating one-million dollars to IowaState University for the new 4-H building. The program helps teach thousandsof Iowa kids about agriculture. Farm Bureau Executive Director Dick Harrissays the gift is important in helping ensure the future of the 4-H program.Harris says 4-H helps kids who live in the country and the city.The new building is projected to cost three-point-five million dollars.
The leaders of two Iowa ag groups have filed a lawsuit protesting the IowaAttorney General’s opinion that Iowa’s Ag Secretary does NOT have theauthority to mandate usage of ethanol fuel in Iowa. Iowa Farm Bureau President Ed Wiederstein (weed’-er-steen) believes thestate’s top lawyer has NOT interpreted Iowa law correctly.Wiederstein and others believe Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge has theauthority to set a “fuel quality standard” which would force gas stations tosell only ethanol fuel.Iowa Corn Growers Association president Ron Litterer of Greene has joinedWiederstein in the court petition.
The leaders of two Iowa farm organizations concede consumer resistence togenetically-modified crops may force farmers to abandon so-called “G-M-O”grains. Iowa Farm Bureau President Ed Wiederstein (weed’-er-steen)says in this instance, the old adage that “the consumer is always right”must be taken into account.Iowa Farmers Union President John Whitaker agrees that science andtechnology changes everything.In the 1980s, some U-S consumers objected to a bovine growth hormone whichdramatically increased dairy production. In this decade, European consumersrefuse to buy food which is genetically-modified. Whitaker and Wiedersteinmade their comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program,”Iowa Press.”