Iowa Groups Hail Passage of Federal Farm Bill

New federal farm legislation contains important benefits for consumers, conservation, renewable energy, etc.

Published on: May 26, 2008

The Iowa Corn Growers Association on May 23 applauded the passage of the 2008 Federal Farm Bill as a positive step forward that will benefit Iowa's farmers, the environment and U.S. consumers. ICGA President Tim Recker also gave high marks to Iowa's members of Congress, both Democratic and Republican, for exceptional leadership on the issue.

"From a growers' standpoint, we are very pleased to have a new optional tool for managing risk better," says Recker, who farms near Arlington in northeast Iowa. "The concept behind the ACRE program got its start with growers here in Iowa who experienced some of the limitations of traditional crop insurance programs.

"Now ACRE is the law of the land," he adds. "We think it has two major benefits: It should serve the real-world needs of farmers better, and it should make better use of our tax dollars to help farmers only when there's real need."

Much more than legislation for farmers

Recker notes that the farm bill also contains important benefits for consumers, more funding for nutrition programs and more emphasis on encouraging methods that preserve the environment. "We call it the farm bill for short, but farm program payments are only a minor part of this bill," he points out. "It will also mean more funding to feed infants, more help for food banks, more resources for scientific research to improve food production and more conservation programs."

On behalf of Iowa's corn growers, he thanked Iowa Senators Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley, and Iowa House members Leonard Boswell, Steve King, Tom Latham, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack for being "voices of reason" in the farm bill debate.

What ISA likes about new farm bill

The new farm bill contains a number of things the Iowa Soybean Association wanted, says ISA president Curt Sindergard, a farmer from Rolfe, Iowa.

The Senate has passed a final version of a new five-year, $300 billion farm bill by a vote of 81-15. It had already passed by 318 to 106 in the House, so the margins in both bodies were large enough to override President Bush's promised veto.

"The ISA had impact for Iowa farmers in this legislation," says Sindergard. "Overall, ISA and Iowa's farmers did well by helping obtain mandatory funding for programs that were among our conservation priorities." Specific program wins include:

• The shift of funding from land retirement to working lands programs. That is the Conservation Reserve Program to Environmental Quality Insurance Program and Conservation Security Program.
• The Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, which specifically mentioned the Discovery Watershed Initiative as an example of regional initiatives that could be supported by CCPI.
• A new Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (formerly discussed as RWEP (Regional Water Enhancement Program). The Upper Mississippi River Watershed was specifically mentioned in language as a priority area in the conference report.

There are a couple of other programs that ISA had influence on, he says. Those include a new pilot CRP program that will allow constructed wetlands on tile drainage systems for nitrate reduction as an eligible practice and expansion of Conservation Innovation Grants and Payments program. "And we know that Iowa will receive a $5 million influx of EQIP funding that will need to be spent by end of September 2008," adds Sindergard.