Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge says the tight state budget and personnel cutbacks will make it tough for her office to meet its priorities in the new year.Judge says she’s had over 25 staff members tell her they’re considering taking the state’s early retirement option. Judge says they’re going to be short of staff to carry out their legislatively mandated duties like inspections. The legislature did approve money for a special veterinarian to meet concerns about the “foot and mouth” outbreak in Europe. Judge says she’d like to see that position stay, especially with the renewed threat brought on by the September 11th attacks and the potential for terrorism against the food supply.Judge says another priority is getting help for livestock producers in dealing with new E-P-A rules. She says they think they’ve identified a source of loan money to help producers meet the rules.She says she’ll introduce legislation to compensate growers for crop damage done by deer, an issue she says has become a bigger problem and is costing growers lots of money.Judge says the continued promotion of ethanol and bio-diesel fuels are also part of her agenda for next year.
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