There were three times more subcommittee meetings that took place last week than committee meetings in the Iowa Legislature. The legislature approached its first funnel deadline on Friday February 24. That was when all policy bills must clear their committee of origin in order to stay alive this session. Next, a lot of time will be spent discussing legislation at the subcommittee level during the week of February 25 in preparation of bringing the bills to the full committee.
Here's an update on proposed bills of agricultural interest
* Beginning Farmer legislation: HSB 69, the beginning farmer bill, unanimously passed out of the full House Agriculture committee this past week. Comments from both parties focused on the importance of agriculture in Iowa and the difficulties getting young new farmers involved.
The bill would increase the beginning farmer ag asset transfer tax credit for landowners to 7% from the current 5%, and raises the crop-share lease tax credit to 17% from the current 15%. The bill also creates a new custom-hire tax credit of 7%, which could be used when qualified beginning farmers are hired to do custom farming for a landowner. Additionally, the bill increases the total amount of tax credits available for those programs from $6 million to $12 million annually.
* Sale of Raw Milk: Proposed legislation, House Study Bill 131, would allow for the sale of raw milk or any raw milk product directly to a customer at any location in Iowa. Iowa Farm Bureau policy states that only pasteurized milk and milk products should be sold or distributed for human consumption.
* Limits On State Regulations: A bill has been introduced, Senate File 168, that would prohibit a state agency, board or commission from exceeding the requirements of federal rules when implementing a federal program unless specified by the Iowa Legislature. Farm Bureau believes that if rules are needed that exceed federal standards, that should be a decision of the Legislature, not an appointed board or commission. The bill is a companion to House File 65.
* State Inheritance Tax: House File 195 would increase the state inheritance tax exemption from $25,000 to $1 million and would also expand the state inheritance tax exemption to include property passing to brothers, sisters and other relatives.
* Corn Suitability Ratings: SF 119, Advertisement of Corn Suitability, was discussed at a subcommittee meeting last week. The federal government has requested Iowa State University develop a revised and updated Corn Suitability Rating system. The CSR2 is being developed to address production changes in Iowa soils. Unfortunately some numbers were released by NCRS early and a company selling land began using the CSR2 numbers which are higher than the CSR numbers that have been used for years.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
This has caused confusion to people buying land. The introduced bill in this session of the Iowa Legislature requires the seller to list both the CRS and CRS2 for two years, until the official change over to CSR2. Realtors objected to the bill as it is now written and would prefer that it be changed instead to make the use of the CSR2 numbers illegal until the change officially takes place. It became clear in the meeting of the subcommittee last week that the bill was going to be pulled by the originating senator. However, before the meeting ended the representative for the bankers association added comment letting the group know that the confusion is a problem in the lending world as well. The bill will not be advancing any further. More information on the new CSR2 can be found in the January 2013 edition of Wallaces Farmer magazine which can be found here.
* Funding requests: The reconvened AgState group has looked at the Agriscope study and picked out four areas of funding they would like the legislature to address this year to help advance the agriculture industry. The four areas include the ISU Agriculture Experiment Station, Iowa Cooperative Extension Services, the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, and the Bio Economy Institute at ISU. Three out of the four areas listed above were not given additional funding in Governor Branstad's proposed budget.
His budget did include a 2.6% increase to ISU's general fund, however these are line item areas that were then not included in the funding increase. The areas the Iowa Soybean Association is requesting additional funding for are as follows (the bio-economy received half of the requested funding for 2014 and the full amount requested for 2015 in Governor Branstad's budget. Of course, that means the ISA lobbyists are working with the legislature to make sure the funding stays in the budget throughout the legislative process during the 2013 session.
ISU AGRICULTURE EXPERIMENT STATION: $730,909 in incremental funds are requested. Agricultural sciences are poised to drive economic growth and job creation to new heights in Iowa and surrounding north-central states.
ISU COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICES: $466,355 in incremental funds are requested. Working with colleges and other campus partners in research and economic development, extension addresses challenges associated with Iowa's ability to form new businesses, grow existing industry, expand communities and transplant companies to the state.
ISU VETERINARY DIAGNOSTIC LABORATORY: $762,364 in strategic initiative funds are requested to complete the legislative intent of establishing a $4 million appropriation to support the state-wide mission and services of the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, Iowa's only public veterinary diagnostic laboratory.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
This past week Roger Wolfe of the Iowa Soybean Association staff was at the capitol in Des Moines to discuss the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy with Rep. Charles Isenhart (D) of Dubuque and Rep. Scott Ourth (D) of Indianola. Isenhart invited Roger Wolfe to discuss an idea Isenhart has to address the voluntary aspect of the nutrient reduction program. The meeting with Ourth was to explain ISA's involvement in the nutrient strategy process before Ourth's community meeting with guest Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey on March 8.
Biodiesel Day at the Statehouse overlapped with the ISA's "Day on the Hill" at the Legislature last week, so some ISA members were able to do double duty lobbying their legislators. ISA members Brian Kemp, Dean Coleman and John Heisdorffer were able to meet with several lawmakers about the state's new nutrient management strategy and also to discuss the Iowa Soybean Association/Iowa Corn Growers Association fuel tax study. Other meetings included conversations with ISA members and their local legislators about ISA's On Farm Network program and the funding shortfall to ISU's Agriculture Experiment Station and ISU Extension.