By DOUG SCHMITZ
PAULLINA, Iowa — Gov. Terry Branstad’s 18th Condition of the State Address cut to the heart of the Iowa Corn Growers Assoc. (ICGA) list of federal and state priorities for 2013, according to ICGA officials.
“Agriculture has kept Iowa financially stable and Governor Branstad recognizes the contribution, and is committed to working with farmers and agribusiness in 2013,” said Bruce Rohwer, ICGA president and a Paullina farmer.
In his Jan. 15 address, Branstad said Iowa recently signed an agreement with China to provide more than $4.3 billion in soybeans. “I think (Branstad) stated it correctly in his address that Iowa is not only feeding the world, it is feeding the world economy,” Rohwer said.
Under the state’s budget, Branstad said he’s proposing “a significant plan to reform our property tax system, to make it competitive and provide nearly $400 million in actual property tax relief to Iowa’s hardworking taxpayers.”
According to him, the 2013 budget fully funds the Homestead Tax Credit and the Elderly and Disabled Tax Credit in fiscal year 2014 with an additional appropriation of $33 million.
“This legislation will take the current 4 percent cap on valuation growth for residential property and agricultural land, cut it in half to 2 percent and apply it to all classes of property,” he said.
Moreover, his 2013 budget proposes $2 million to support medical residency programs in Iowa – especially in rural areas. “Last year, we came together and created a public-private partnership to help doctors serving rural areas repay their costly loans,” he said.
“My second proposal provides $2 million to launch the Rural Physician Loan Repayment Program and expand it to include OB-GYN and emergency medicine doctors as well as primary care physicians.”
But Branstad said the state’s “successes do not end with the state budget … We also completely redesigned our state’s economic development efforts through the creation of the new Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Innovation Council, and the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress.”
He added “these efforts have paid big dividends,” leading to the two largest private capital investments in Iowa history, with the construction of new fertilizer facilities in Lee and Woodbury counties.
“All totaled, in the two years since this administration took office,” Branstad said, “our efforts have landed more than $5.3 billion in capital investments in Iowa. These investments translate into jobs for thousands of Iowans and higher incomes for so many Iowa families.”
As the 2013 Iowa legislative session begins, the ICGA said it will be working with state lawmakers to promote policies and programs important to Iowa corn growers, including monitoring policies that could negatively affect farmers. Last August, ICGA representatives reinstated expiring policies and adopted new resolutions at the ICGA’s annual policy conference in Des Moines.
Among the list of 2013 priorities the ICGA will be working on with state lawmakers are: funding for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to support budget requests; implementing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy by increasing conservation/water quality funds; and supporting new funding for E15 from renewable fuels infrastructure, as well as opposing diversions to other fuels, such as natural gas.
In addition, the ICGA said it would support the state’s livestock industry and the existing laws regulating livestock operations; support efforts to reduce or revise unnecessary or unworkable regulations for agriculture; and support funding for agriculture-related research at Iowa State University (Ag State Proposal).
Regarding property taxes and transportation, the ICGA said it would work with the Iowa legislature to “maintain the agriculture productivity formula” and property tax with the Iowa Department of Revenue, opposing shifts to row-crop farmland.
The ICGA said it would also seek increased funding, including a fuel tax increase for roads and bridges. It stated Iowa’s bridges and roads are essential to corn production, as rural byways make up nearly 90,000 miles of Iowa’s 114,000-mile road system.