Michael Dolch, ISA Director of Public Affairs

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)

Policy Update: When the dust settles

May 4, 2021

It is that time of the year. Whether chasing a seed tender down a gravel road or kicking up behind a closing wheel, dust is flying, and seeds are germinating across the state. It is planting season, which for my family and so many others, means one thing, it is go time. An interchangeable reference to planting or harvesting, go time is a nonstop, around-the-clock seasonal affair crucial for farmers as they have a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. Despite a cold, wet start for much of the state, folks are driving hard and making strong progress.

By the time this edition of the Iowa Soybean Review slid into your mailbox, the 2021 Iowa Legislature adjourned sine die. Sine die is a Latin term meaning “without day.” All bills passed and received by Gov. Kim Reynolds during the last three calendar days of the legislative session are now on the clock and must be signed or vetoed within the 30-day window after adjournment. No different than sessions past, the several days and weeks leading up to adjournment this year saw a flurry of activity extending deep into the night more often than not.

As these words hit the page, I am hopeful that one of the bills approved within the final days and set for ceremonial signing is the governor’s Iowa Biofuel Standards Bill, a top priority of the Iowa Soybean Association this session. Should the legislation meet the governor’s pen, it would not only give Iowa the nation’s leading biofuels policy and significantly boost demand for homegrown soybeans and corn, but also accelerate Iowa’s rural recovery post-pandemic.

As expected, critics of the effort argued the bill would limit customer choice and cripple fueling infrastructure. In reality, though, the legislation would only fuel progress and secure Iowa’s renewable and economic future by growing consumer choice and supporting rural jobs and communities. I cannot view the future with a crystal-ball, but based on historical and present-day trends emerging federally, I have reason to believe these same critics could eventually come calling when the liquid fuel market is squeezed by California-like Low Carbon Fuel Standard programs and electrification proposals.

Regardless of the bill’s fate, I am grateful for the support Iowa soybean farmers, ISA Advocates, and industry partners demonstrated since the proposal was first introduced in February. I am also thankful and appreciative for the ongoing leadership shown by Gov. Reynolds and her staff on behalf of Iowa’s farmers and rural communities. These partnerships are just one way the ISA works to achieve positive policy outcomes for the over 12,800 ISA farmer members.

The ISA is, and has always been, in the business of driving increased soybean demand through market development and new uses, farmer-focused research, timely information and know-how, and farmer-led policy initiatives. Beyond biofuels, we are engaging on the issues critical to your bottom line, issues dealing with government regulation and overreach, taxes, trade and market access, carbon credit markets, and increased input costs. These are all high-impact, legacy issues which will have generational implications.

I will leave you with this...regardless of what you see and hear, policymakers do understand the enormous economic and social impact of the agriculture industry on the nation. So, when the dust settles in Des Moines and the field, we will be here to map out next steps and demand drivers with you. Until then, have a safe and successful go time.

This story was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of the Iowa Soybean Review.