The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization, will focus its 2021 legislative lobbying efforts on issues most important to members, including protecting property taxpayers.
“Our members from all over Iowa have clearly stated that protecting property taxpayers should be our key focus during the 2021 legislative session,” said Craig Hill, IFBF president and Warren County farmer. “Property taxes will reach $6.3 billion in Iowa this year and have more than doubled in the past 18 years. This puts a significant burden on farmers and all Iowans.”
Iowa Farm Bureau members believe that property taxes should be used to provide essential services linked to property, while the state budget should be used to pay for services for citizens, such as mental health. The state must make mental health a priority in their budget and assume the costs of the system, providing dollar-for-dollar property tax relief for Iowans.
“Now is the time to transition to an equitable funding source, and it’s important that lawmakers resist any moves to shift state obligations onto the backs of property taxpayers,” Hill said. “People in rural, unincorporated areas of Iowa end up with a far higher tax burden for those services than those living in urban areas.”
Iowa is the nation’s top producer of ethanol, but neighboring states have seen biofuels make up a higher percentage of its fuel sales. Members will work with lawmakers to develop an ethanol standard for Iowa and seek to work towards standardized labeling and pump handle colors.
“We have a great opportunity in Iowa to make biofuels part of the solution as the U.S. works to reduce its carbon footprint. However, Iowa needs to establish an E10 standard or higher, along with a system of uniform labeling and pump handle colors,” Hill said. “That will boost sales of ethanol in our state while supporting jobs in rural communities and improving water quality.”
Iowa Farm Bureau members will continue their support for conservation and water quality efforts through the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The organization will work to make sure the state upholds its obligation of cost share funding, especially helping farmers implement scientifically based conservation practices in priority watersheds. IFBF will also work to protect designated funding through Senate File 512, as well as funding for Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) and the Conservation Cost Share program.
“Iowa farmers have made conservation work a priority and have continued to make progress,” Hill said. “It’s important to have state funding along with sensible state and federal cost share programs in place to help continue that progress.”
Farm Bureau will also work with lawmakers during the 2021 session to develop a driver’s permit for minors under the age of 16 to independently drive a passenger vehicle for farm work. The farm driving permit would provide important efficiencies for Iowa farm families, and would work like a school permit, which is available to youth at age 14 and a half. Several other states have successfully implemented driving permits for minors who are essential workers on family farms.
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