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Ag bills survive state’s legislative funnel

Article cover photo
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed new ag trespass legislation into law last week. Three-year-old Avery Jensen was invited to help sign the legislation, which is designed to protect Iowa farms and farmers from those who seek to do harm. Avery is Senator Tim Kraayenbrink’s granddaughter. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer

 

Iowa agriculture has seen some success at the halfway point of the 2019 legislative session. With hundreds of bills filed and discussed, ag bills are moving ahead after surviving the funnel.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds last week signed ag trespass legislation, which she said was ultimately designed to keep Iowa farms safe.

“Untrained, unapproved and unwanted items or people entering farms put farmers and the economy of the state at risk,” Gov. Reynolds said before signing the bill into law in her formal office at the Capitol. “This law will improve the security and safety of Iowa farmers by criminalizing the entrance of unapproved individuals who use deceit to enter farms and intend to cause harm.”

It’s good for both livestock farmers and crop growers, says Trent Thiele, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, who farms near Elma.

“It means we have some protection on our farm against some of the people who want to do harm to our production system and our farming practices,” he said.

“Crops and livestock go hand-in-hand because livestock producers use about 25 percent of the soybeans in Iowa and a good percentage of the corn production as well. If it harms the livestock producers, it goes all the way through to the crop farmers as well.”

The ag trespass legislation replaces former ag protection legislation which was ruled unconstitutional and is now tied up in the courts.

Weight limit extension

Other pieces of legislation specific to agriculture have passed through the funnel and are up for debate.

One is to increase the allowed gross weight limit for special, noncommercial use trucks. Michael Dolch, director of public affairs for the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), said it’s in the best interest of the state’s ag sector that this gets signed into law.

“This bill would allow farmers to move agricultural commodities more efficiently around the state,” Dolch said. “In doing so, this will help our farmers remain profitable, ensuring product delivery in a cost effective, reliable manner.

Seeing storage concerns and a glut of soybeans, it would be beneficial in a year like this, he said.

“There are piles of soybeans around the state, and when the market turns, we’re going to need the ability to move those piles as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Dolch said.

Beginning farmer tax credit

The beginning farmer tax credit bill also survived the funnel. This incentivizes landowners and tenants to rent property to beginning farmers and ranchers. ISA supports the bill.

“Our farming population demographic is aging, and it’s such an expense to start farming nowadays,” Dolch said. “ISA thinks it’s important to give young farmers the opportunity, if they so desire, to get started, and help break down barriers to entry.”

On the ISA watchlist are anti-ag bills that could impact Iowa farms and farmers.

“We want to ensure we’re not letting anything slip through the process that would affect a farmers’ license to operate,” Dolch said.

Of particular interest is the request by numerous counties to look at the Master Matrix scoring system for Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) sites and moratoriums on the expansion or creation of CAFOs in the state. For more background on this issue, see this story.

With funnel week in the rear-view mirror, state legislators now turn their attention to appropriations and budgets to determine priorities for the second half of the legislative session.

 

Contact Bethany Baratta at bbaratta@iasoybeans.com.

For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

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