Members of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization, will focus their 2020 legislative lobbying strength on issues most important to members, including protecting property taxpayers.
“Our members across Iowa have clearly stated that protecting property taxpayers should be a key focus during the 2020 legislative session,” says Craig Hill, IFBF president and Warren County farmer. “Property taxes have more than doubled in the past 18 years, and the average property tax bill on 500 acres of farmland in Iowa is now approximately $13,000.”
Iowa Farm Bureau members have developed policy stating that property taxes should be used to fund essential property services, while the state budget should be used to pay for services for citizens, such as mental health. “Now is the time to transition to an equitable funding source, and have the state assume the costs of the mental health system,” said Hill.
Iowa farmers are committed to responsible livestock care, and that entails a close working relationship with their veterinarian. Farm Bureau members will work with lawmakers to develop programs that help ensure the future availability of private practice food animal veterinarians. Some of those programs could include a state-based student loan forgiveness plan, economic development incentives for rural vet clinics, mentorship, transition tax incentive for retiring vets or other programs.
“Raising livestock is a vital part of Iowa’s economy, so maintaining an adequate supply of food animal vets is essential,” Hill said.
Farm Bureau will also work with lawmakers to develop a driver’s permit, similar to a school permit available to youth at age 14 and a half, to independently drive a vehicle for farm work. The farm driving permit would mimic several other states, providing important efficiencies for Iowa family farms.
Supporting conservation and water quality efforts through the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy remains a Farm Bureau focus. “Iowa farmers have proven over the years that they are willing and able to continue to advance conservation if funding and sensible state and federal cost-share programs are available,” said Hill.