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The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is respectfully urging Congress to extend the blender’s tax credit for 2018 and 2019. The tax incentive plays a key role in supporting growth of the U.S. biodiesel industry and is vital to the profitability of Iowa soybean farmers. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

Ankeny — The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is seeking feedback from Iowa soybean farmers through their annual farmer survey. Topics will include: Opportunities and challenges impacting your farm and the soybean industry; importance and value of ISA programs and services; credibility and reliability of information provided by ISA and understanding of and participation in conservation/nutrient management practices.

ISA members should be on the lookout for communications from ISA over the next few weeks to ensure they get the chance to share their input. Members can expect to receive a direct link to the survey via email on Wednesday, Dec. 5. A link to the survey will also be sent via text message and be available on the homepage of the ISA website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"We take our responsibility to serve soybean farmers seriously,” says Aaron Putze, ISA director of communications and external relations. “Feedback from our members is important. Hearing from farmers in the field helps us tailor our efforts and offerings to better serve them."

As a token of appreciation, ISA will draw the names of 50 survey-takers who will win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Washington, D.C. — Farm Bill negotiators say they have reached a tentative agreement, pending the final cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. Assuming those numbers are in order, we could see text by Friday, but it may not be available until next week.

“We’ve reached an agreement in principle, but we’ve got more work to do,” House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said in a statement last night.

Continue reading for more Farm Bill insights from the recent ASA Policy Communications Bootcamp.

Washington, D.C. — The biodiesel tax incentive plays a key role in supporting growth of the U.S. biodiesel industry, helping biodiesel and renewable diesel producers create jobs, diversify the fuels market and strengthen U.S. energy security.

However, the credit is currently expired.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) is respectfully urging Congress to extend the full $1.00 per gallon blender’s tax credit for 2018 and 2019. Beyond that, producers seek a permanent tax incentive at a level that will continue to foster growth in the domestic biodiesel market.

Congress must approve remaining appropriations bills or a new continuing resolution by Friday, December 7 to avoid a partial shutdown of the federal government. If Congress fails to renew the expired tax incentive along with this funding, it will have few foreseeable opportunities to act before next fall.

NBB is urging farmers to help build a sense of urgency among Congressmembers and Senators by contacting their representatives today. NBB’s Fueling Action Center provides an easy-to-use form that will automatically send emails to Representatives and Senators, making the case for them to renew the tax incentive before the end of this year. More than 100 NBB member representatives have already contacted their elected officials through the Fueling Action Center.

Des Moines — The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers (CSIF), a non-profit group that helps farmers navigate the maze of state and federal regulations regarding livestock, recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of recognizing outstanding Iowa livestock farmers through the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award.

The award recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right and go above and beyond as environmental stewards and animal caretakers. It is an opportunity to tell the story of responsible livestock farming in Iowa and highlight the families who make it so successful.

“The award was started 15 years ago to highlight families who are going above and beyond to care for their animals and to leave the land in better shape for the next generation,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “What we have seen as we have recognized the more than 130 award recipients over the past 15 years is the passion of livestock farmers to improve animal care, protect the environment and serve their state and community.”

Presented by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Ag Radio Network, the award is made possible through the financial support of CSIF. It’s named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who created the award.

“We invite all Iowans to acknowledge their farm neighbors by nominating them for this prestigious award,” said Bob Quinn, farm broadcaster with WHO Radio.

Nominate a family for the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor award by December 15. With CSIF’s recently-launched new-and-improved website, filling out the nomination form is a breeze. View past Good Farm Neighbor Award Winners.

Des Moines — The long-term water quality funding passed and signed into law earlier this year is being used to scale up water quality efforts in Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IDALS).

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said the extra funds are critically important as the state’s farmers and landowners continue to expand use of edge-of-field conservation practices that have been proven to significantly reduce nitrate levels.

“We are excited to highlight the first examples of how Iowans will benefit from this legislation that provides more than $280 million for water quality efforts over the next 11 years,” Naig said.

IDALS received an additional $2 million this fiscal year. Work is being concentrated on implementation of wetlands, saturated buffers and bioreactors that reduce nitrogen loss to streams in priority watersheds.

The department is dedicating additional resources and restructuring responsibilities within the Water Quality Initiative program to support the growing demand from farmers and increased funding availability for these practices. New roles are being added within the department to support one-on-one outreach efforts to prospective landowners on a number of conservation practices, with an emphasis on infrastructure-based practices that address nitrogen loss.

“We are putting additional ‘boots on the ground’ to provide technical capability and help effectively deliver these key nutrient reduction practices at an increased pace and scale. We are moving from demonstration to broader implementation of these practices as water quality funding ramps up over the next few years,” Naig said.

Shane Wulf has been hired for a new role as an edge-of-field coordinator and will focus on scaling up implementation of these practices within priority watersheds. In this role, Shane will provide technical assistance to local Soil and Water Conservation District offices, farmers and landowners to increase the capacity to deliver nutrient reduction practices.

Shane previously worked as a water quality project coordinator in Miller Creek Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Project in Black Hawk County where he gained firsthand experience implementing edge-of-field conservation practices.

In addition, three new watershed implementation coordinators will focus on scaling up nutrient reduction conservation practice delivery in the North Raccoon, Middle Cedar and South Skunk priority watersheds.

Des Moines — Based on the recommendation of the Iowa State Technical Committee, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will remove the dollar cap on five key Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) conservation practices in Fiscal Year 2019.

These practices include: no-till/strip-till (329), cover crop (340), reduced till (345), nutrient management (590), integrated pest management (595) and high tunnel system (325).

The EQIP subcommittee recommended the change to help improve contracting efficiencies and encourage expanded conservation adoption on individual farms. “We were especially interested in expanding the use of cover crops—a key soil health and water quality conservation practice,” said Sarah Carlson, with Practical Farmers of Iowa.

The change does not impact payment rates, but increases the total payment amount allowed per practice, said State Conservationist Kurt Simon.

“The removal of the cap will translate into more acres of these practices in Iowa,” he said.

While the EQIP dollar cap is removed for these five practices, the overall financial cap allowed over the life of the Farm Bill remains. Under the 2014 Farm Bill, EQIP financial assistance is capped at $450,000 per individual. EQIP applications are accepted on a continual basis. Visit your local NRCS field office to learn more.

The second fiscal year 2019 EQIP signup deadline for Iowa farmers is March 15, 2019. NRCS offices accept program applications on a continuous basis and rank applications as funding allows.

Ames — An Iowa State University study that shows the age of Iowa’s farmland owners continues to rise is now available through the ISU Extension Store.

Results from the “2017 Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey 1982-2017: A Thirty-five Year Perspective” (FM 1893) were released in June, but are now available to be purchased for $5. It can also be downloaded as a PDF. The survey was conducted by Wendong Zhang and Alejandro Plastina, assistant professors and extension economists at Iowa State.

A record 35 percent of Iowa farmland owners are aged 75 or older in 2017. Sixty percent were over the age of 65, which is five percentage points higher than 2007 and twice the level recorded in 1982.

Conducted by Iowa State University since the 1940s, the Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey — completed every five years — focuses on forms of ownership, tenancy and transfer of farmland in Iowa, and characteristics of landowners. The latest survey was conducted in July 2017.

Aging farmland owners is one of several notable trends found in the latest survey.

“An increasing amount of land is cash rented,” Zhang said. “In 1982, leased farmland was equally divided between cash rent and crop share leases. However, by 2017, 82 percent of leased farmland was under a cash rent arrangement. Two primary reasons for the trend away from crop share and towards cash rent agreements are that landowners have become more dispersed and the number of landowners per tenant has increased. Both these trends make payment in grain and keeping grain differentiated by owner more difficult.”

More farmland is now owned debt free, the researchers said. In 2017, 82 percent of Iowa farmland was debt free, a significant increase from 62 percent in 1982 and 78 percent in 2012. This could be the result of profits earned during good crop years in 2012 and 2014 and profitable livestock production years like 2014.

For media inquiries, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at

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