Iowa ag secretary comments on 2016 legislative appropriations

Iowa ag secretary comments on 2016 legislative appropriations

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey thanked Iowa legislators for providing $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, but highlighted the missed opportunity to identify a long-term funding source to support voluntary, science based water quality efforts in the state. Northey also expressed disappointment that the Legislature did not provide additional funding for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to support foreign animal disease response planning after last year’s avian influenza outbreak.

“The governor and the Iowa House both put forward bipartisan plans to provide significant, long-term funding to support water quality efforts on our farms and in our cities. Unfortunately, an agreement could not be reached with the Iowa Senate. This is a lost opportunity to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the water quality efforts underway in the state and I hope legislators will move quickly next year on a water quality funding plan,” Northey said.

The Legislature approved $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The legislation now goes to Governor Terry Branstad and must be signed before going into effect.

The funding package included $4.4 million for water quality in the Agriculture and Natural Resources appropriation bill (HF 2454) and $5.2 million from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF budget, SF2324).

The funds will allow the department to continue to offer cost share statewide to farmers trying new water quality practices, continue work in targeted watersheds to achieve measurable water quality improvements, expand urban conservation efforts, and develop new programs to help engage all Iowans in improving water quality.

IDALS received level funding for other programs as well, including $6.75 million for conservation cost share and $1.92 million to finish a project closing 17 agriculture drainage wells in the state to protect groundwater quality.

The Legislature did not fund IDALS’ request for $500,000 to aid in preparing for and potentially responding to a foreign animal disease outbreak, such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). The funds would have been used to increase the capacity of the animal industry bureau and provide resources to better equip and prepare for future responses.