The president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation says the state legislative session that ended last week was a great one for agriculture, with one exception.
Craig Hill praised the move by lawmakers to shift the burden of paying for the state’s mental health program away from county property taxpayers, since farmers own a significant portion of the state’s land.
“There’s only a couple other states that actually pay for mental health service with a property tax,” Hill says. “Shifting, dollar for dollar, costs of mental health services away from property tax to the general fund was a goal that we’ve had.”
Hill says another legislative win this session included more funding for Iowa’s water quality programs. “Those dollars that were appropriated a few years ago to address water quality with our nutrient reduction strategy, we extended those,” Hill says. “We had some new opportunities for beginning farmer tax credits, some expansion there.”
Hill says there was a big legislative disappointment in the 2021 session, one that would have benefitted corn and soybean growers. “The one that we made progress on but we didn’t complete and that was to expand the use of biofuels, both ethanol and biodiesel,” Hill says. “We’ll be back next session, working away at that one.”
Overall, Hill says Iowa lawmakers did a good job in approving a budget that leaves the state sitting in a good position following the pandemic.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)