AGRIBUSINESS: Senator Says Iowa Ag Budget Is Shamefully Small

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Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey appeared before the appropriations subcommittee on January 30, asking for more funds than were in the Governor's budget.

Northey wants additional funds for the Water Quality Initiative, bumping it up from $4.4 million to $6.65 million.

Urban conservation programs was another point Northey made, he wants increases in the budget to purify water in cities before it gets to rivers in streams. He also wants additional funding to close off ag drainage wells, which are holes drilled into limestone that lets farm water drain into the reservoir. Two hundred ninety-six ag drainage wells were originally in place in Iowa, Northey says we are now down to 37.

A final part of the budget request was the increased personnel and benefits cost estimate. For IDALS to keep the same employees to next year, they need a budget increase of nearly $600,000. Nearly 75 percent of that, is the increased cost of health insurance alone.

Iowa Senator and chair of the Agriculture & Natural Resources Budget Subcommittee Dennis Black pointed out in the hearing that Iowa spends three tenths of a percent of its total budget on agriculture. He says Iowans should be ashamed that so little is devoted to a state that is first in the nation for five different commodities.