Last week the Iowa legislature appropriated more than $11 million in one-time funds to conservation in its fiscal year 2015 budget. The funding is allocated to four areas which did not receive appropriations in Governor Terry Branstad's proposed budget, released in January. Branstad has yet to sign the budget, and may veto specific line items.
In a press conference Monday, Branstad painted a bleak picture for much of the one-time funding appropriated by the legislature, including conservation.
Branstad says, "My concern is to protect the commitments we made last year; I want to make sure the resources are there to pay for that, and so we will be carefully scrutinizing the spending, especially this one-time spending bill."
The one-time funds are by no means insignificant to agriculture. Taken together with normal appropriations, Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill points out total conservation funds next year could be at record levels.
"So the legislature's done their part, the Iowa House and Senate. We're very pleased. [It's] the second-highest level of conservation that we've had in the history of Iowa, the last year being the highest level: $34 million last year, $28 million this year. This is just a fraction of the cost that farmers put out; $100 million in excess of that every year from farmers alone. So this is just an incentive that helps." Hill says, "I think the governor supports this voluntary commitment to conservation, and I would expect his signature, but I can't speak for the governor, of course."