The Iowa Corn Growers Association held its 2010 annual meeting and policy conference on Saturday, August 28. ICGA voting delegates from across the state came to Des Moines to discuss and vote on many issues to decide ICGA's policy positions on various issues for the upcoming legislative year.
"Our delegates talked about ethanol, of course, and what would be the best way to structure any government financial support for renewable fuels in the future," says Dean Taylor, the new ICGA president from Prairie City. A related topic had to do with how to best label biofuels at the pump. Delegates also discussed government farm programs and tax issues.
One sort of surprising topic was whether ICGA's support for research should call for corn or maize research. That may sound like an odd topic for a resolution, but delegate Vic Miller of Oelwein says some U.S. Department of Energy officials don't look kindly on funding research that involves corn. But there doesn't seem to be the same opposition to the word "maize" when it is mentioned in applications that are sent to DOE to seek funding.
Pushing for a permanent 88,000 lb. harvest weight limit for trucks
Few major policy changes were made during the 2010 ICGA delegate session in Des Moines. Some farmers voiced concern about the possibility of the U.S. government banning the use of atrazine herbicide but the delegates were assured that ICGA and the National Corn Growers Association are trying to convince Environmental Protection Agency officials that atrazine is an important tool for corn production and that it should stay on the market.
ICGA delegates approved a resolution supporting the exemption of agriculture facilities from the requirement that they be worked on or serviced only by certified electricians and plumbers in Iowa. Also, delegates approved language supporting a permanent 88,000 pound harvest weight limit for trucks from September 15 to December 15. Currently, the law in Iowa is that the governor must each year grant the fall harvest weight limit exemption and it is almost always granted. But, ICGA delegates point out that it is always possible that a future governor might not grant the exemption. Thus, ICGA wants the fall exemption made permanent.
A resolution was approved that would change the size of stand-alone fields that would be eligible for prevented-planting payments, according to USDA Farm Service Agency regulations. Some farmers said they have fields smaller than 20 acres, which are not presently eligible for prevented planting payments. Delegates also approved language in a resolution calling for the use of a county trigger for payments under the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program.
Annual meeting and policy conference report
Some of the policies acted on at the 2010 ICGA annual meeting are listed below; some were renewed from four years ago, and others are new this year. This list is furnished by Mindy Larsen Poldberg, ICGA's director of government affairs.
- Iowa Corn Growers Association should continue to work on scientific-based retention of our farm inputs such as herbicides or pesticides, and protect the existing rulemaking process for approval or cancellation of products, such as carbofuran and atrazine. (2011)
- We support the exemption of agricultural facilities from the requirement for certified electricians and plumbers. (2011)
- We oppose changes in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Missouri River Master Manual that have a negative impact on agriculture because of reduced navigation, reduced flood control constraints, or potential for spring rises. (2011)
- We support an increase in the user fees to fund lock and dam upgrades, as agreed to by the users. (2011)
- We oppose regulating 500-year flood plains to current 100-year flood plain standards. (2011)
- We support an 88,000 pound harvest weight limit exemption from September 15 to December 15. (2011)
- We support an effort to change the law that prevents ditch mowing before July 15. (2011)
- ICGA supports a Renewable Fuels Standard for Iowa (Iowa RFS) that would require Iowa renewable fuel sales to reach 25% of total fuel sales by the year 2020. The goal will be advanced by using higher ethanol and biodiesel blends with incentives weighted more toward higher blends. Benchmarks on success of the Iowa RFS, including the use of all ethanol and biodiesel blends, and compliance by marketers will be measured and evaluated each year. (2011)
- We support the classification of starch ethanol as an advanced biofuel and the equitable allocation of the carbon footprint assessment for all energy sources. There should also be a fair allocation for the corn plant, so that stalks, cobs and kernels all get an equitable share of the carbon footprint. (2011)
- The Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program should be enhanced by using a county level trigger. (2011)
- ICGA supports a farm program that minimizes trade distortion with varied methods of payment distribution, such as crop insurance, ACRE program, direct payment, countercyclical payment, conservation or other green payments, or loan deficiency payments. (2011)
- We believe the capital gains tax rate should remain at 15% or less. (2011)
- The estate tax should be eliminated, but if this is not politically achievable, then the exemption amount should be increased, with an unlimited stepped-up basis maintained. (2011)
- Iowa Corn should continue to provide strong support for the extension of the biodiesel tax credit. (2011)
- We support efforts to repeal the new 1099 requirement within the tax code that would require a 1099 be sent for any purchase or service over $600. (2011)
- We support continuing the state's long-term commitment to increase funding to the Iowa State University Agricultural Research Experiment Station and our land grant institutions for agronomic and plant research generally, and strongly recommend that state officials increase appropriations for the Experiment Station annually to restore Iowa's research competitiveness with similar agricultural research institutions and provide Iowa producers with the latest technology. (2011)