The Iowa Corn Growers Association supports passage of legislation that would increase the fuel tax in Iowa for the purposes of repairing the state's deteriorating bridges and roads. Unfortunately, the Iowa Legislature will not be taking up the fuel tax issue this year. Mindy Larsen Poldberg, government affairs director for ICGA provides the following update on what's going on at the State Capitol in Des Moines, as the 2012 Legislative session is heading into the homestretch and will soon adjourn for the year.
Within the fuel tax, all blends of ethanol (E85, E15, E10) for the past decade have received a reduced tax rate, on a sliding scale, of generally about 1.5 cents as compared to E0 (no ethanol blend). ICGA supports a ten year extension of the tax credit for all ethanol blends, and the ten year extension provision is in both the House and Senate versions of the fuel tax bill. However, the current ethanol tax differential expires on June 30, 2012. ICGA has worked with legislative leaders, legislators and a coalition of supporting groups to pass a one year extension of the ethanol differential, to ensure it does not expire before the legislature passes a fuel tax.
Legislation would provide a one-year patch for ethanol blends extension
ICGA supports these bills, HF 2472 and SF 2340, which were introduced late last week, once it became apparent that the fuel tax would not be debated further in 2012. Both are what is called "Leadership Bills" which are exempt from funnel deadlines. HF 2472 is sponsored by House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and SF 2340 is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. ICGA fully expects committee action and floor votes to pass these bills next week—the week of April 23.
Iowa Legislature agrees to overall state budget target of $6.424 billion
During the week ending April 20, leaders of both parties and Governor Terry Branstad agreed to the overall budget number for the State of Iowa in the amount of $6.424 billion. Now that the overall number has been established, each budget committee can begin debating the final allocations among the other nine budget bills that remain in conference committee. Some issues remaining with the budget process that the Iowa Corn Growers Association continues to be active on are: conservation cost share funding increases, ag drainage well closure funding, increased funding for voluntary water quality programming, and agricultural research support for Iowa State University.
ICGA files comments in support of Dow petition to deregulate Enlist
In other news this past week, the Iowa Corn Growers Association submitted comments on Monday, April 16 to the federal register in support of Dow AgroScience's petition seeking a determination of nonregulated status of corn designated as DAS-40278-9, which is corn that is tolerant to Enlist herbicide. ICGA believes the product is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and, therefore, should not be a regulated article under USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulations.
Additionally, ICGA believes the draft environmental assessment is adequate and supports a determination of non-regulated status. "Product innovations, such as Enlist, are an important component of corn growers' dedication to environmental stewardship," says Craig Floss, the corn grower organization's chief executive officer. "ICGA supports efforts to increase corn grower profitability by improving crop input tools, but does not endorse any individual company."
Colombia Free Trade Agreement will take effect May 15In other news on the federal level last week, the Iowa Corn Growers Association reported that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Colombia will go into effect on May 15, 2012. Once the FTA goes into effect, U.S. exports including barley, soybeans, wheat, cotton and high quality beef will become duty free. Products such as corn, rice, sorghum and dairy products will receive duty free tariff quotas under the FTA. Congress passed the U.S.-Colombia FTA last fall, and it is hopeful the trade agreement will raise U.S. exports by $1.1 billion. Click here for more information from the U.S. Trade Representative. Iowa Corn Growers Association strongly supported the passage and implementation of the U.S.-Colombia FTA.