2021 Legislative Session Includes Victories, Ends with Missed Opportunity
May 20, 2021
Efforts to pass Iowa Biofuels Standard will continue in 2022
The Iowa legislative session adjourned late Wednesday after consecutive days of late-night debate and floor activity. The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) welcomes the progress made on several priority issues but remains disappointed in the lack of support for the Iowa Biofuels Standard.
“Iowa soybean farmers celebrate the passage of a plan to move funding for mental health services from county property taxes to the state and end Iowa’s inheritance tax,” said ISA President and Sidney, Iowa, farmer Jeff Jorgenson. “This directly mirrors the wishes of ISA advocates and delegates who met in January and approved efforts to support these changes.”
Another win centered on changes to the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program. Much-needed legislation was passed that will enhance the program by expanding the eligibility requirements. The tax credit offers incentives to landowners for leasing their farmland, machinery, equipment and buildings to beginning farmers, easing the financial burden on new and young farmers.
Iowa legislators also approved $100 million for broadband infrastructure, a long-time priority of ISA farmer members. The legislature’s historic investment will improve rural broadband access across the state, enhancing farmer adoption and use of precision ag technology and data acquisition and sharing.
The Legislature’s investment of $5 million in Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program will increase consumer access to renewable fuels. The program provides cost-share dollars to fuel retailers to convert equipment capable of offering higher renewable fuel blends.
But legislators failed to act on landmark legislation proposed by Gov. Reynolds that, if passed, would have cemented Iowa’s leadership in the production and use of biofuels.
“The investment and momentum to build out Iowa’s fueling infrastructure could have been ten-fold with passage of the Iowa Biofuels Standard,” said Jorgenson. “We’re disappointed an opportunity was forfeited this session to further support Iowa farmers, consumers, the environment and long-term ag economy.”
Despite early optimism and committee approval for the proposed bill, exaggerated claims by opponents about its economic impact on fuel retailers and consumers slowed the bill’s progress. However, since the bill passed out of several key committees, the Iowa Biofuels Standard remains viable when legislators reconvene next session.
“ISA greatly appreciates our Advocate members and board of directors for their leadership and active engagement with elected leaders,” said Jorgenson. “These grassroots efforts led to policy wins. I encourage soybean farmers to stay engaged and rejoin our efforts to pass the Iowa Biofuels Standard in 2022. We also thank Gov. Reynolds, Sen. Dan Zumbach, and Rep. Lee Hein for their leadership throughout this session.”
Post-session, ISA will support efforts for sustainable, long-term funding of water quality and conservation initiatives across the state. Due to budget uncertainty post-pandemic, the Invest in Iowa Act was sidelined, the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust fund sits empty, and a path forward remains unclear. ISA will also continue to press legislators into identifying a pathway to increased funding.
Jorgenson encourages Iowa soybean farmers to get involved in the association’s district meetings this summer to help guide policy and advocacy considerations throughout the fall and into next year’s session. Dates and locations of meetings will be announced soon at iasoybeans.com.
The Iowa Soybean Association (www.iasoybeans.com) is “Driven To Deliver” increased soybean demand through market development and new uses, farmer-focused research and results, timely information and know-how and policy initiatives enabling farmers and the industry to flourish. Founded in 1964 by farmers to serve farmers, ISA is governed by a board of 22 farmers to advocate on behalf of the state’s 40,000 soybean producers, including more than 12,000 ISA farmer members and industry stakeholders.