Iowa governor sets vision for state's ag sector01/30/2020 | Water Quality, Policy, Soybean News, Ag Awareness
By Bethany Baratta, ISA senior writer
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds this week presented her vision for the state in the decades to come during the Iowa Soybean Association’s Advocate Day held in Des Moines.
“We need to plan for 2030, 2040 so that the next generation will inherit an Iowa that’s even better than today,” Reynolds said.
A fundamental piece of that vision is the implementation of the Invest in Iowa Act, which provides additional funding for water quality, conservation and mental health while also cutting taxes.
The Act provides additional funding for water quality and conservation and outdoor recreation efforts under the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust, which was created under the Iowa legislature 10 years ago.
An estimated $100 million, or 58% of the Trust Fund will go toward water quality. This is a 31% increase in funding. She said $52 million will be used for other conservation and outdoor recreation efforts, representing an increase of 14.6% of current funding.
ISA past president Ray Gaesser said the governor’s vision to invest in the future of Iowa is similar to what he does on the farm he shares with his wife and family.
“On our farm, we’re investing for those next generations,” Gaesser said.
That comes not only in the monetary investment of machinery, but also the investment in water quality and soil health. He’s currently the co-chair of the Iowa Conservation Infrastructure Initiative, advancing environmental practices toward meeting the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
“It’s about using the practices and technology we have today to conserve and enhance our natural resources,” Gaesser said.
Reynolds recognized ISA for its backing of Iowa's Water and Land Legacy (IWILL), which supports raising the sales tax 3/8 of a cent to fund the Trust.
ISA President Tim Bardole said IWILL is about all Iowans coming together to improve water quality.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a farmer or if you live in downtown Des Moines, there are things you do that can both hurt or help water quality,” Bardole said. “It’s not one industry or one group of people, it’s the population of Iowa that needs to work together to improve water quality.”
Supporting growth of biodiesel
Reynolds told farmers she will continue to hold EPA and the administration accountable and fight for a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
The extension of the federal biodiesel tax credit was a win for the biodiesel and soybean industries, she said.
“It provides some predictability and certainty we need as we’re trying to grow this industry,” she said.
In December, Reynolds signed the first executive order in the country requiring all new contracts for the purchase of state vehicles with diesel engines to have written support from the manufacturer to use B20 biodiesel (a blend of 20% biodiesel and 80% petroleum-based diesel) or more. That’s led the way for other states to follow suit, she noted.
“We can really have an impact regionally to drive demand and help this industry grow,” she said.
Under Reynolds’ leadership, an additional $2 million was added to the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Program (RFIP) to encourage improvements and investments in expanded use of renewable fuels in Iowa.
In addition to supporting infrastructure efforts and widespread usage of biodiesel, Reynolds said trade deals with Japan and China benefit farmers; the recent signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is also a good step forward.
“This puts us on new footing for free, fair and reciprocal trade with our top export partners,” Reynolds said. “And when it’s [trade’s] free and it’s fair, we compete, and we win.”
Reynolds said she’s excited for the opportunities created within the Invest in Iowa Act, not only for Iowa farmers, but for all Iowans.
“As we move into this new decade, let’s continue to be bold, visionary and continue to seize the opportunities before us,” she said. “And let’s continue to make this next decade Iowa’s best ever.”
Contact Bethany Baratta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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