Encouraging in-the-field odor research on livestock farms, additional funding to assess and protect Iowa water quality and reducing the impact of Iowa's burgeoning deer population are among key priorities for farmers this year, as the first gavel fell on the 2008 legislative session last week.
Since farmers and city dwellers alike all live in a watershed, Iowa Farm Bureau wants to continue efforts in the 2008 session to protect Iowa's water quality, says Craig Lang, president of IFBF and a farmer from Brooklyn in east central Iowa.
He says IFBF policy focuses on the impact of storm water runoff, which comes from homes, farms, small towns, big cities, rainfall and snowmelt. IFBF supports the legislative Watershed Quality Planning Task Force recommendations which include improved coordination of water protection programs, watershed assessment, planning, prioritization and monitoring to make sure efforts result in real water protection.
Wants taskforce recommendations approved
"Having the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Culver approve the taskforce recommendations is truly critical this year," says Craig Lang, IFBF president. "These recommendations address the watershed issues that will create a strong foundation to enhance real water protection efforts."
Reducing the odor from livestock farming is another IFBF priority that will be discussed by lawmakers in the 2008 legislative session. Farm Bureau commends Gov. Culver for his support of the proposal which was introduced by the Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Iowa State University researchers to take odor reduction research out of the lab and onto the farm to find out what methods work best and are most cost-effective.
The proposal would install a variety of odor-reducing technologies on hog, cattle, chicken and egg farms including; biofiltration, livestock diet changes, manure storage covers, tree plantings and siting assistance, which considers weather patterns and the location of nearby residences.
Effective odor control methods needed
"We know Iowa lawmakers see the value of our land grant university developing effective odor-reducing technologies for a crucial industry that feeds and fuels a growing world population. This takes a long-term commitment to the kind of agricultural research that is needed to keep Iowa livestock farming viable in a growing world market," says Lang.
"Farm Bureau members share Gov. Culver's enthusiasm for growing Iowa's renewable energy economy," adds Lang. "For Iowa to maintain its role as the national leader in biofuels production, however, the state must continue to support research that focuses on energy efficiencies, enhanced coproducts and maximizing the use of soybean meal and distillers grains in the livestock industry."
Seek changes in law to help control deer
Another issue which has long been a priority with Iowa farmers is the issue of Iowa's deer overpopulation. Too many deer not only take a toll on Iowa's crops, they also pose a threat to Iowa motorists and homeowners. IFBF urges lawmakers to make improvements to the deer depredation program, including opening up non-resident hunter licenses and assigning more landowner hunting permits, based on their acreage.
"Improving the depredation program should help protect both urban and rural property from this state's burgeoning deer population. This should also reduce the very real risk to Iowa motorists, who have suffered recently both in property damage and lives lost because of the deer population problem," notes Lang.