Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge calls the state’s proposed "livestock bill," Senate file 2293, a flawed piece of legislation. She charges it was put together without input from the agricultural community, and if enacted in its present form, could cripple Iowa’s agricultural industry.
Judge spoke at a press conference in Des Moines April 1, joined by representatives of the Iowa Pork Producers Association and other agriculture commodity and business groups. A banner displayed at the press conference contained hundreds of names of ag-related businesses potentially impacted by the legislation.
Judge observes: "Our most important goals are to increase opportunities for profit in agriculture and, at the same time, protect Iowa’s environment, soil, water and air. Those two goals have to be accomplished together if the state is to grow and prosper. The pitting of agriculture against the environment is wrong. Iowa farmers and their families are good stewards of the land, and we are concerned with our environment.
"We must have legislation that is reasonable for the environment and reasonable for rural Iowa. As it stands now, the bill before us could devastate our livestock and related industries, which pump billions of dollars a year into Iowa’s economy," she says.
Besides lack of input from agriculture, the bill also errors in three areas, she says:
- Its enactment date of "effective immediately" won’t allow industry time to comply. This would produce a de facto moratorium on further expansion of the industry for several months.
- The fee structure creates a tax on Iowa’s already strained farming community.
- The Social Matrix imposes restrictions on farmers not placed on any other segment of Iowa’s population.
Under current law, counties consider applications for construction permits and may send comments to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The bill calls for setting up a state-developed community impact matrix that county officials can use to advise DNR on whether a permitted facility should be built in their county.