Last week, on Wednesday, December 7, Iowa Senate President Jack Kibbie, a Democrat and a farmer from Emmetsburg in northwest Iowa, requested the Iowa Legislature pass a gas tax increase during the upcoming 2012 session. "With the ethanol plants and the biodiesel plants and the livestock industry in rural Iowa, the roads are important," Kibbie said. "We're not going to have commerce like we need it without having a good road system."
Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, however, said he does not anticipate lawmakers will increase the gas tax in 2012. Paulsen is a Republican.
Last month, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said that before Iowa increases the gas tax to pay for road infrastructure improvements, "we must find more efficient ways to utilize our current resources." Branstad made the comment after the Governor's Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission (CAC) proposed an 8 cent to 10 cent per gallon gas tax increase to generate funding to maintain, replace or rebuilt Iowa's deteriorating roads and bridges.
Iowa Senate President Jack Kibbie calls for gas tax increase in 2012
What do Iowa farm organizations think of Kibbie's proposal? The policy of the Iowa Corn Growers states: "We support a fuel tax increase to fund transportation improvements to existing transportation infrastructure in the state of Iowa."
Iowa's roads and infrastructure system are essential to agriculture and corn production, and Iowa's farm-to-market roads and rural bridges are in dire need of maintenance and repair. If something isn't done soon, more of the state's roads and bridges will need complete replacement in a growing number of cases, notes Mindy Larson Poldberg, director of governmental affairs for ICGA.
In other corn news this past week, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. announced they are seeking support for legislation that would end the federal ethanol blenders tax credit which is 45 cents per gallon. This tax credit (known as VEETC or the volumetric ethanol excise tax credit) is due to expire at the end of 2011—and it doesn't look like Congress is going to extend it. These same members of Congress also want the U.S. to lift the 54 cent per gallon tariff that taxes imports of foreign ethanol entering the United States.
On Tuesday, December 6, U.S. Representatives Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Joseph Crowley (D-CT), Wally Herger (R-CA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Pete Stark (D-CA) asked their colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives to sign a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The letter asks the leaders to allow the ethanol tax credit (VEETC) and the ethanol tariff to expire at the end of the year and refrain from creating new ethanol subsidies.
The attached letter sent by these congressmen to other members of congress specifically mentions efforts to designate corn-based fuels as advanced biofuels under the Renewable Fuels Standard. "We at the Iowa Corn Growers Association contacted all Iowa members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them not to sign the letter," says Poldberg. " While we at ICGA acknowledge that VEETC is likely to expire, we object to the remarks that corn should be excluded as a biofuel. An advanced biofuel or cellulosic biofuel by law must show a 50% 60% reduction in greenhouse gases, compared to unleaded fuel (or E-zero, which is gasoline that contains no ethanol). If the science shows corn is reducing greenhouse gases by these percentages, corn should not be excluded for political reasons alone."
Comments on Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Planning
The National Research Council (NRC), a federal government scientific panel, is conducting a study on the challenges facing the Army Corps of Engineers. Over the course of five years, the NRC's Committee on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Science, Engineering and Planning will provide independent advice on an array of strategic and planning issues.
The NRC Committee's first report, issued in March, identified emerging challenges and their implications for the Corps' programs. The Iowa Corn Growers Association has sent a letter to provide ICGA's public comments regarding the importance of continued public investment in water transportation for agriculture as well as the nation's economy. The NRC Committee is holding an open session on Monday, December 12, entitled "Charting a Sustainable Path for Corps of Engineers Water Resources Infrastructure." The National Waterways Conference (NWC) president will be testifying at that session discussing commercial navigation infrastructure needs. ICGA holds a seat on the board of NWC and was invited to provide a letter of support to NWC testimony on the importance of waterways transportation and infrastructure. A copy of the letter and attachment sent by ICGA can be found here.
Corn caucus project looks to link growers with presidential campaignsThe Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association released the Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card on November 30. The report card serves as a reference guide to presidential candidates' positions on agricultural policies but does not endorse any candidate. Throughout the Corn Caucus Project (CCP), ICGA has established contacts with all presidential candidate campaigns. As the January 3 caucuses are less than one month away, ICGA is looking to link farmers with the presidential campaigns they support. For more information about how you can get involved with the Corn Caucus Project, contact Amanda Taylor at [email protected] or 515-225-9242.