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Expect no new farm laws in 2010

By Staff | Jan 1, 2010

At least at this writing, farmers can breathe a little easier hen looking forward to 2010 as lawmakers say they expect no big changes in farm laws during the 2010 Iowa legislative session. The session is due to start on Jan. 11.

According to Sen. Dave Johnson, D-Ocheyedan, ranking member on the Senate ag committee,figuring out how to meet the governors’ budget cuts for the coming fiscal year will take up the majority of lawmakers’ time.

In addition, Johnson said, because the session has been cut from 100 to 80 days to help save the state money, that will mean even less time available to consider must beyond the budget.

Likewise, Sen. Rich Olive, D-Story City, vice chairman of the Senate ag committee, told members of Farm Bureau Tuesday night in Fort Dodge that the budget would be on lawmakers minds and did not expect a major issue to crop up in either the Senate or House ag committees.

“I think after expanding the Grain Indemnity Fund and setting the new rules for applying manure on frozen ground in last year’s session,” Olive said, “it might be a good year to pull back.”

Although some ag producers may think that no government action was a good thing, there are some who are more skeptical.

“That just sounds like normal politicians,” said Chris Petersen, of Clear Lake, president of Iowa Farmers Union, “who are looking at an election year.

“They are under attack from all sides on the budget, so it’s a game of ‘Survivor.’

“They’re trying to get reelected by doing a little bit of nothing.”

He sees Republicans as out to protect “fat cats” and investors, and Democrats as “having their hearts in the right place, but they forget that rural Iowa exists.

“So us farmers are caught in the middle.”

Petersen said ag issues that the legislature should be reviewing this session include who is benefitting from various tax credits, local control for siting livestock buildings and revamping the matrix system that helps determine where new livestock sites can be placed.

In an earlier interview, Craig Lang, president of Iowa Farm Bureau, said he will suggest tax credits that will help smooth the process of farm successions.

“The state (historically) gives tax credits to create economies and efficiencies,” Lang said. “Now, we’ve got a whole bunch of energetic men and women who want to farm.

“Why not use tax credits to help get these young people started in ag and livestock ventures?”

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