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Long-Term, Dediated Water Quality Funding a 2018 Priority
Iowa Ag Connection - 01/10/2018

Members of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa's largest grassroots farm organization, plan to focus their 2018 legislative lobbying strength on issues that stand to impact all Iowans, mainly securing long-term, dedicated state funding to support Iowans' successful efforts to improve water quality and conserve soil, and measures which will protect taxpayers.

"Iowa farmers continue to take on the challenge of improving water quality and conserving the state's topsoil, and farmers have made significant progress reducing nutrient loss and implementing successful conservation measures," says IFBF President Craig Hill. "To continue that momentum, Farm Bureau will work with lawmakers during the 2018 session to secure long-term, dedicated funding to support the state's scientific-based Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS)."

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds' Condition of the State Address demonstrated a commitment to also make water quality funding a top priority during the 2018 legislative session, a statement that earned a standing ovation from legislators in attendance and strong support from Iowa Farm Bureau members. "My hope is that a water quality bill is the first piece of legislation that I have the opportunity to sign as governor," Reynolds said.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said, "Governor Reynolds has been a strong supporter of the water quality efforts underway across the state and I appreciate her making long-term funding a priority in her Condition of the State address. The Legislature has provided increasing support for water quality over the past 5 years, including nearly $10.5 million this year, but this session is an opportunity to identify a long-term source of funding to allow us to continue to scale-up our water quality efforts.

"I also appreciate her focus on supporting our state's rural areas, including expanding broadband access. With agriculture as an important driver, I agree there are tremendous opportunities to see significant growth and economic development generated in our small towns and rural communities."

Farm Bureau strongly supports a bill that was originally passed by the Iowa House during the 2016 session and was slightly modified and passed by the Iowa Senate during the 2017 session. The bill, now called Senate File 512, is also supported by Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). Senate File 512 advances science-based research and watershed projects outlined in the NRS, promotes and incentivizes watershed collaboration, and establishes accountability as progress continues with water quality improvements.

The long-term, dedicated funding provided through Senate File 512 would allow farmers and the state to conduct long-term planning for watershed projects, soil conservation efforts, and collaborative projects within a watershed. Senate File 512 also maintains the collaborative approach of the 2016 House bill, which treats both point source (urban) and nonpoint source (rural) equitably.

Another focus for IFBF during the 2018 legislative session is tax reform. Specifically, the organization will work with legislators to help ensure that tax reform legislation will protect the benefits of federal deductibility and will also include coupling with the federal tax code for Section 179 asset expensing, a critical economic tool for Iowa farmers and small business owners.

IFBF has a long track record of protecting property taxpayers, and the organization will remain committed in 2018 to ensure legislation protecting property taxpayers remains a priority for Iowa lawmakers. Iowans paid more than $5.5 billion in property taxes in 2017, a number that has more than doubled since 2000. IFBF is dedicated to working with legislators to maintain current levels for the Homestead Property Tax Credit and the Ag Land/Family Farm Tax Credit, and to continue to extend other key provisions beneficial to property taxpayers.

"The Legislature has the opportunity to address several measures that help protect property taxpayers from further increases, and we will work with them to do that," says Hill.

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