Now that the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has marked up and unanimously passed its Water Resources Reform Development Act -- otherwise known as WRRDA or H.R. 3080 -- the push is on to ask the House Ways & Means Committee to allow a user fee increase to become part of the WRRDA bill.
Last week the Iowa Corn Growers Association joined 80 other organizations asking that the barge fuel user fee be increased to pay for maintenance and construction of locks and dams. "We are urging Iowa Corn members to send letters to House Members to urge Ways & Means to include the user fee provision in WRRDA," says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, director of government relations for the ICGA. She urges you to contact your congressional representative.
In other news of importance to corn growers, a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must explain its role in regulating the Mississippi River watershed.
Judge rules EPA must explain its role in setting Mississippi River Watershed standards
In a ruling last week, a federal judge gave the Environmental Protection Agency six months to decide whether to set nitrogen and phosphorous water quality standards in the Mississippi River watershed or explain why they are not needed. The decision in Gulf Restoration Network vs. EPA requires the EPA to write a response to environmentalists' petition seeking strict new nutrient limits for states in the Mississippi River watershed. However, the judge stated that nothing in the federal Clean Water Act prohibits the EPA from collaborating with state nutrient reduction efforts as well as the EPA's preference for states to lead such tasks.
Iowa Corn Growers Association policy opposes Chesapeake Bay-type water quality regulations that could result from the EPA's response. ICGA supports a voluntary watershed approach to nutrient management rather than a regulatory approach. "ICGA, along with corn grower associations in other states and the National Corn Growers Association will continue to work with the EPA over the next six months encouraging the agency to continue allowing states to lead nutrient reduction efforts rather than establishing basin-wide nutrient criteria," says Poldberg.
ICGA representatives attend National Waterways Conference annual meeting
Also last week, several Iowa Corn Growers Association staff members attended the National Waterways Conference, or NWC, annual meeting in Savannah, Ga. At the meeting, lobbying efforts for the WRRDA bill and the impacts of the potential fiscal cliff/government shutdown were discussed. Some of the special meeting guests included Lt. General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and John Anderson, staff director for the U.S. House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
ICGA was reelected to a seat on the NWC board, and ICGA staff member Mindy Larsen Poldberg was elected to a second three-year term on the NWC executive committee. NWC is considering Davenport, Iowa as a location for its 2016 annual meeting.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources is holding REAP meetings Oct. 1 through Nov. 13
The public is invited to attend meetings around Iowa to voice recommendations for the state's Resource Enhancement and Protection, or REAP, program. The REAP program provides grants for and encourages the protection of Iowa's natural resources. It's important that farmers attend and speak in support of maintaining or increasing REAP funding for soil and water conservation.