As the 88th General Assembly of the Iowa Legislature drew to a close, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig reflected on key policies passed this year.
?This year?s legislative session was unlike any other in the past century due to the pandemic,? said Secretary Naig. ?I appreciate the work of the legislature to push several priorities across the finish line with bipartisan support.?
Priority items headed to Gov. Kim Reynolds? desk include continued funding for water quality projects, renewable fuels infrastructure incentives, and foreign animal disease prevention.
Foreign Animal Disease Preparedness and Response
The Iowa Legislature renewed its commitment to the Department?s foreign animal disease preparedness and response efforts. The Department will receive $500,000 to continue its collaboration among veterinarians, producers, industry representatives, and the USDA to prevent, prepare, and respond in case of a foreign animal disease outbreak.
These funds will help Iowa livestock producers by providing continued education and resources to increase biosecurity efforts to prevent a disease outbreak. The funding will support emergency response coordination, district veterinarians, and technology to prepare for future foreign animal disease outbreaks that may occur.
?Iowa?s livestock industry is critical to the nation?s food supply. A foreign animal disease outbreak would be devastating to the food supply chain and our state?s economy,? said Secretary Naig. ?We are continuously working with our federal and industry partners to prevent an outbreak. We must also be prepared to respond quickly to trace, contain, and eradicate the disease if an outbreak occurs within the United States.?
Water Quality Initiative
Secretary Naig requested and received continued funding for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal year 2021.
The Water Quality Initiative is intended to accelerate the adoption and implementation of rural and urban soil conservation and water quality projects in priority watersheds. On a cost-share basis, WQI funds help offset the cost of education and outreach, community planning, feasibility assessments, and the implementation of conservation practices, which support the goals outlined in Iowa?s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
?As we continue implementing the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, we need additional funding to build upon successful water quality projects happening across the state,? said Secretary Naig. ?We are building nitrogen-reducing wetlands at the fastest pace in our state?s history, and we?ll continue to look for ways to scale up outreach, design, engineering, and construction for more projects.?
Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program
The Department will receive $3 million for its Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, which funds the installation of ethanol dispensers and blenders, biodiesel dispensers and blenders, and biodiesel terminals throughout the state.
The program increases the production, distribution, and consumption of homegrown, value-added agricultural products. The ethanol and biodiesel industries provide additional markets for Iowa farmers, high-quality jobs for rural communities, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and additional choices for consumers at the pump.
To date, the program has awarded or obligated more than $36 million to help fund 335 E85 dispensers/blenders, 54 E15 projects, 343 biodiesel dispensers/blenders, and 141 biodiesel terminals across Iowa. The private sector has responded by investing over $200 million in these same projects.
?Biofuels are a win for Iowa?s agriculture community, consumers, and the environment,? said Secretary Naig. ?Our biofuels producers have taken a huge hit during COVID-19. Many renewable fuel facilities have reduced or ceased production because of decreased demand. The Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program helps support the recovery and long-term growth of the renewable fuels industry.?