Members of Iowa’s largest grassroots farm organization plan to focus their 2017 legislative lobbying strength on issues that stand to impact all Iowans, including advancing water quality, coupling with Section 179, and protecting property taxpayers. Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) released their list of legislative priorities this week, following Governor Branstad’s Condition of the State speech.  

“Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge to do more for improving water quality and conserving the state’s valuable topsoil,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.  “Farmers have made significant progress in reducing nutrient loss in the past three decades and, as a number of surveys show, have embraced Iowa’s science-based Iowa Water Quality Initiative, otherwise known as the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  Our members will work with lawmakers this year to find dedicated, long-term funding that keeps the collaborative conservation work going between ISU researchers and farmers in the field; their work is too valuable to be idled by a lack of funding. We would also like to thank Governor Branstad for continuing to make long-term, dedicated water quality funding a priority.”   

Farm Bureau will work with legislators to focus on coupling Iowa tax code with federal tax code for Section 179 asset expensing.  The federal government passed legislation to permanently extend Section 179 asset expensing in late 2015, which allows for accelerated depreciation up to $500,000 in one year for both new and used equipment purchases.  “Last year, Iowa lawmakers retroactively coupled state tax code with federal tax code for Section 179 asset expensing, but only for the 2015 tax year.  We’d like to see it permanently coupled at the $500,000 level, because we strongly believe that Iowa needs predictable tax policy that benefits farmers and small businesses.   We are in the third year of a struggling farm economy, and farmers are urging lawmakers not to take this important economic tool away from them." says Hill.

Farm Bureau also has a long track record of working with lawmakers to reduce the burdens placed on property taxpayers.  “Iowans will pay more than $5 billion in property taxes this year, and the Legislature has the opportunity to address several measures that help protect property taxpayers from further increases.  It’s time to do that," says Hill.   One example involves property tax contributions to Iowa’s mental health system. “Farm Bureau will work to ensure that property taxpayer contributions to the state mental health system remain limited and controlled, and to achieve equity between the contributions paid by rural Iowans and those in urban areas,” Hill said.