Secretary Naig Highlights Legislative Session Accomplishments Benefiting the Iowa Agriculture Community
DES MOINES, Iowa (May 20, 2021) – Following the adjournment of the 2021 legislative session, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement congratulating state legislators on a successful session that saw major accomplishments for Iowa farmers and the agricultural community:
“I want to thank all 150 state lawmakers for their public service and continued support of Iowa’s agriculture community. Agriculture is the backbone of our state and all Iowans benefit from a strong ag economy. I’m grateful that the Iowa Legislature continues to make smart, strategic investments to strengthen local food chains, create new markets for our producers and provide dedicated, long-term funding for soil health and water quality practices,” said Secretary Naig. “Working together, we secured additional funding for agriculture initiatives this legislative session and will continue to see historic investments in water quality. These funds will support a value-added agriculture program, help small meat lockers expand to add more processing capacity and create new jobs, protect our livestock and our state’s economy from a foreign animal disease outbreak, and continue scaling up soil health and water quality projects around the state.”
Secretary Naig also expressed optimism that Gov. Reynolds’ proposal to increase the use of renewable fuels will return next session for further discussion:
“I also want to thank Gov. Reynolds for her bold proposal to expand access to homegrown biofuels. Our country is at a critical juncture when it comes to low carbon, renewable energy. Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel industries can be part of the solution and Iowa must continue leading those conversations. While I am disappointed that we weren’t able to see this bill cross the finish line, I am hopeful that we can continue these conversations in the interim and find a meaningful path forward next session.”
Below are some of the major legislative accomplishments from the 2021 session that benefit Iowa agriculture:
10-Year Extension of Water Quality Funding
2020 was a record year for conservation efforts in the state of Iowa. To continue building on this success, the Department needs a dedicated, long-term and sustainable funding source. This session, legislators passed a 10-year extension of long-term, dedicated funding to help support the state’s water quality efforts through 2039, which will result in additional funding of more than $320 million. The Department will continue working alongside farmers, landowners, municipal leaders and public and private partners to support the adoption and completion of conservation practices. These rural and urban projects improve soil health and water quality to advance the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, provide wildlife habitats, and support recreational opportunities, like hunting and fishing.
Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response
State lawmakers provided a $250,000 increase in funding for the Department to prepare for and respond to a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak, which has the potential to significantly harm the state’s $13 billion livestock industry. This will bring total annual funding for FAD prevention up to $750,000 and significantly improve the Department’s ability to safeguard our food supply chain and Iowa producers.
Value-Added Agriculture Grant Program
As a recommendation from Gov. Reynolds’ Economic Recovery Advisory Board, legislators created the Value-Added Agriculture Grant Program, to be administered by the Department. This provides an appropriation of $250,000 to support programs that add value to traditional commodity crops, expand fruit and vegetable production along with other alternative crops, increase processing capacity, and offer direct-to-customer marketing opportunities for protein and produce.
After seeing tremendous success with the Local Produce and Protein Program last fall, legislators worked closely with the Department this session to continue this initiative. As part of this year’s Department bill, a new fund within the Department’s existing Farm-to-School program has been established to incentivize schools to purchase locally-grown and raised foods produced by Iowa farmers. This strategy will provide new markets for farmers, create lasting connections between schools and local producers, and strengthen Iowa’s local and regional food systems.
Support for Local Meat Lockers
Over the last year, main street meat lockers across the state have seen a significant increase in demand for locally-sourced protein but oftentimes struggle to keep up due to a lack of processing capacity. Last fall, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship helped address this need through the Meat Processing Expansion and Development program that distributed $4 million in grants across the state. Modeled off of the Department’s successful program, legislators created a program this session that will be jointly administered by the Economic Development Authority and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to provide new or existing meat lockers with low-interest/forgivable loans and grants. This program will provide additional marketing opportunities for livestock producers, increase processing capacity and create jobs.
Protection for Agritourism
Agritourism destinations, including family farms, dairies, nurseries, orchards, and wineries, have exploded in popularity in recent years. To encourage continued growth of this industry, legislators voted to provide agritourism destinations with limited liability protections to guard against frivolous lawsuits. This will allow these types of small, local businesses to continue to expand, create new jobs, attract visitors and drive economic growth in Iowa.
Tax Relief for Farmers and Iowa Agriculture
Numerous measures passed this session will significantly reduce income and property taxes for all Iowans. Coupled with Iowa’s high affordability and quality of life, these critical tax reforms will make the state even more competitive to recruit new businesses and attract families. Additionally, several of these actions will positively impact Iowa’s agriculture community and make it easier for farmers to pass assets on to new generations without penalty. These efforts include:
- Expansion of the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit program to increase participation in an already successful program.
- Phasing out the state inheritance tax which negatively impacts those who wish to pass their life’s work on to future generations.
- Exempting CARES Act grants from state income tax that were awarded by the Department to increase meat locker processing capacity, expand availability of renewable fuels, and incentivize the purchasing of local foods in early care centers, K-12 schools, and higher education institutions.