The Iowa House of Representatives voted Wednesday, April 25, and the Senate voted Thursday, April 26, to extend the current ethanol fuel tax differential until July 2013. Within the fuel tax, all blends of ethanol (E85, E15, E10) for the past decade have received a reduced tax rate, on a sliding scale, of generally about 1.5 cents as compared to E0 (no ethanol blend). "The Iowa Corn Growers Association appreciates the support of the Iowa Legislature in extending the fuel tax differential for an additional year," says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, director of government relations for ICGA.
The measure now awaits signing by Governor Terry Branstad. ICGA supported both of the bills in the Legislature--HF 2472 and SF 2340--which were introduced late last week. They were introduced once it became apparent that the issue of whether to raise the state fuel tax would not be debated further by the Legislature in 2012. The fuel tax bill would have extended this ethanol provision for 10 years, which ICGA supported.
2012 Iowa Legislature remains in session—several key issues remain
Although the last paid day for the members of the Iowa Legislature was April 17, the state legislators remain in session at the Statehouse in Des Moines. There are several remaining issues on the list of things lawmakers still need to discuss and vote on. Legislation of particular interest to the Iowa Corn Growers Association include funding for state soil and water conservation cost-share funding, and funding for the ag drainage well closure program, increased funding for voluntary water quality programming, and money for agricultural research support for Iowa State University.
In federal news pertaining to agriculture this past week, the U.S. Senate ag committee in Washington, D.C. passed a farm bill. Next step is to debate it and vote on it in the full Senate. The Iowa Corn Growers strongly support this bill.
Iowa Corn Growers strongly support farm bill passed by U.S. Senate ag panel
On Thursday, April 26, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the 2012 Farm Bill. "The Iowa Corn Growers Association strongly supports this bill which maintains crop insurance and provides for a revenue program, as well as conservation funding," says the ICGA's Poldberg. Also, National Corn Growers Association president Garry Niemeyer said: "NCGA appreciates the efforts by the Senate Agriculture Committee to pass the 2012 farm bill. We realize a lot of hard work was put in by committee members and staff last week and we are pleased to see an agreement was reached. While no legislative product is perfect, we believe the bulk of the legislation passed by the committee is consistent with corn growers' policy." For more information on the bill from Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, click here.
U.S. Department of Labor withdraws child labor rule proposal
The U.S. Department of Labor announced April 26, it will not proceed with its proposed rule for children working in agriculture. The proposed rule would have increased child labor regulations relating to agricultural employment, and specifically made restrictions on work children could do on their parent's farm. In December, the National Corn Growers Association, in conjunction with other farm organizations, submitted detailed comments outlining the many concerns with the Labor Department's proposed rules.
The Iowa Corn Growers and the National Corn Growers are pleased with the Obama administration's decision not to pursue the rule. Click here for more information.
California Air Resources Board is allowed to enforce LCFS
"We are disappointed to report that on Monday, April 23, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a December 2011 federal court decision which had declared that the state of California's low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS) was unconstitutional," says Poldberg. "The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is now able to continue implementation of the LCFS. The LCFS was created by the California Air Resource Board (CARB) in attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuels."
The California law gives priority to California ethanol and other fuels and discriminates against ethanol produced in the Midwest. California is a very large fuel market with its large population and large number of motor vehicles, so the impact of this suit is significant. The December 2011 ruling against the LCFS said the standard violated the U.S. government's Commerce Clause because the standard allowed the state of California to regulate interstate commerce by treating states differently. The Iowa Corn Growers Association supports this lawsuit, in support of corn-based ethanol.
U.S. House Committee passes funding for FY13 Army Corps of Engineers
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2013 Energy and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on Wednesday, April 25. The bill would fund the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' civil works programs along with programs under the U.S. Department of Energy and other various federal agencies. This legislation supplies $4.8 billion for the Civil Works programs-this is $187.8 million less than FY12.
The Appropriations Committee suggested $1.45 billion for construction, major rehabilitation and related activities for projects that provide commercial navigation, flood and storm damage reduction or aquatic ecosystem restoration on the nation's rivers. This is $216.7 million less than what they appropriated in Fiscal Year 2012. Click here for more information on the appropriations.