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Northey seeks $500,000 for disease response fund

By Staff | Dec 7, 2016

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey requested Monday an additional $500,000 for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Animal Industry Bureau to aid in preparing for and potentially responding to a foreign animal disease outbreak.

Northey also reiterated his support for the proposal passed by the Iowa House of Representatives last session that would have provided nearly $500 million through 2029 for water quality efforts in the state.

Northey highlighted these proposals in his public budget meeting with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

“I recognize we are in a very tight budget time in the state, due in large part to the challenging economic environment in Iowa’s ag industry. However, it is important we continue to invest in priority areas that put the state in a good position for continued growth,” Northey said.

Northey requested $500,000 for the Department’s Animal Industry Bureau for foreign animal disease outbreak response preparation. The funds would be used to provide livestock farmers with additional expertise to increase biosecurity efforts and allow the Department to better equip and prepare for future responses to foreign animal disease outbreaks that may occur.

“The value of Iowa’s animal industry is $13.45 billion, and growing,” Northey said. “Unfortunately, the High Path Avian Influenza outbreak last year showed how devastating a foreign animal disease can be in our state.

“These funds would allow the Department to better prepare for a future animal disease emergency response.”

Northey reiterated his support for the water quality funding proposal the Department supported and helped draft that would have provided nearly $500 million through 2029 for water quality efforts without raising taxes.

This proposal prioritized existing infrastructure funds toward edge-of-field and in-field infrastructure, like wetlands, saturated buffers, and bioreactors to improve water quality. It also directed fees Iowans already pay on their water bills toward improving wastewater and drinking water facilities.

This proposal passed the Iowa House last session with bipartisan support, but was never considered by the Iowa Senate.

The additional funding would allow the Department to significantly expand the water quality efforts underway. To date through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, more than 5,000 farmers have signed up to try water quality practices on their farms and there are currently 45 demonstration projects throughout the state to help implement and demonstrate these practices in both rural and urban settings.

More than 100 organizations are participating in these projects. In addition, countless more farmers are trying practices on their farm without any assistance.

“As we have worked to scale-up the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, identifying significant, sustainable, and ongoing funding to support the state’s water quality efforts has been a priority. I appreciate the leadership from the governor and Iowa House on this issue and believe this plan that has received strong bipartisan support and allows us to make a significant investment in water quality without raising taxes is the right path forward on this critically important issue,” Northey said.

Northey also requested $6.75 million for conservation cost share again in fiscal 2018. For over four decades, Iowa’s soil conservation cost share program has encouraged the adoption of conservation structures and practices to protect and preserve our state’s natural resources. Last year alone, the state’s $6.29 million investment generated $8.676 million in matching funds from Iowa farmers and land owners to support conservation practices.

In the meeting with Branstad, Northey also requested $1.875 million to close Agriculture Drainage Wells. Of the 300 registered ADWs in Iowa, 18 remain to be closed at an estimated cost of $7.5 million. This level of funding over the next four years would allow all of the remaining ADWs to be closed.

The final request for additional funding that was presented was $150,000 from the Technology Reinvestment Fund to begin the process of updating the Iowa Commercial Pesticide License and Certification Database system.

The database carries records for over 20,000 certified private applicators, over 14,000 certified commercial applicators and handlers, as well as over 4,000 licensees. The Department’s Pesticide Bureau has annually collected more than $5 million in fees in recent years that are used to support the Groundwater Protection Fund in the Iowa DNR and more than $1 million returned to the state’s general fund.

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