Iowa is capturing the world's attention as a leader in renewable energy, but growth in several areas is needed to benefit Iowa's economy and end our nation's reliance on foreign oil. All are key issues, as the first gavel falls on the 2007 legislative session of the Iowa Legislature.
Iowa Farm Bureau is encouraging the funding of research to expand production and consumption of ethanol. Iowa tops the nation in ethanol production with nearly 1.7 billion gallons set to be produced this year. The state has also become a leader in biodiesel production and wind energy, which also has a track record of support by Farm Bureau.
But, successful expansion of the renewable fuels industry requires a continued support for research and growth of another added value product--livestock. Livestock and grain production have a centuries-long relationship of sustainability. Livestock consume the coproducts from ethanol production and nutrients from the livestock manure are used to fertilize the crops needed to feed the nation's growing appetite for ethanol.
Renaissance due to renewable energy
"All of Iowa is approaching an economic renaissance thanks to renewable energy, but it's going to take substantial intellectual and financial investments to maintain that 'first in the nation' status," says IFBF President Craig Lang.
"Farm Bureau invested $1 million in Iowa State University's renewable energy research division, to promote the next generation of renewable energy, such as cellulose," says Lang. "We need a combination of federal, state and local funding to keep fueling the growth of the bioeconomy initiative."
Lang, a fifth-generation dairy farmer from Brooklyn in east central Iowa, says Farm Bureau also looks forward to working with new leadership in the Governor's office and in the Legislature on renewed enhancement of state environmental protection programs. In recent years, Farm Bureau has worked to secure funding for soil and water conservation programs.
Need more funding for soil conservation
This year, the organization is also working with the Legislature and the governor-elect to improve coordination among existing programs and regulations, to provide for comprehensive watershed assessment, and focus research and education programs in ways that result in improved water quality.
"Farmers and all Iowans need increased funding for soil conservation cost-share programs. Right now, landowners have twice the demand for cost-share funding than the $5.5 million could cover. We already lead the nation in restored wetland acres and buffer strips to protect from nutrient run-off, but we could do much more," says Lang.
Farm Bureau has long supported efforts to reduce property taxes, which have increased 29% in the last six years. "Our organization encourages lawmakers in this new session to take bold steps to bring property taxes under control, making the 2007 legislative session one of which all Iowans can be proud," says Lang.