Iowa Corn Growers Association announces 2020 legislative priorities

Taking into consideration their members’ concerns on top issues affecting corn growers, the Iowa Corn Growers Association is taking those concerns to elected officials both on the state and federal levels, once again, in 2020.

According to the ICGA, it starts at the grassroots level, where members discuss hot button issues at round-table meetings, and from there advance to the ICGA annual Grassroots Summit and Policy Conference. Then legislative priorities are finalized by the ICGA board of directors.

Jim Greif, ICGA president from Prairieburg, said at the state level, the ICGA has four issues that are a top priority this year.

Water quality and conservation

“We want to maintain a funding stream for our nutrient reduction strategy we have in Iowa, which will involve funding for cover crop programs and more,” he said.


Making higher blends of ethanol more readily available to consumers is a quest of the ICGA.

“Anything we can do to maintain higher blends of ethanol is high on our priority list,” he said.

Greif said Iowa has an infrastructure program available to fund pumps that are able to provide E25 or higher blends of ethanol.

“Currently we have E15; a lot of pumps are only certified for E10. We would like to see new pumps going in to gas stations in Iowa that would have the capability to going to higher blends — E25 or E30, without changes down the road if that fuel comes along,” he said.


“Livestock feed is our largest customer for corn in the state of Iowa,” said Greif. “Whether it is raw corn or DDGs left over from the ethanol, they’re our No. 1 customer and we will do what it takes to help the livestock industry.”

The ICGA will attempt to accomplish this by helping to maintain laws that will let the livestock industry flourish in Iowa, and they feel this can be done by supporting existing regulatory framework for the livestock industry.

“Sometimes a hog barn going in will have a lot of resistance from locals, and we would like to maintain the state has control over siting livestock facilities, not local control — anything we can do to help support that, we will,” he said.


Greif said the ICGA would like to see a better management of taxes landowners pay to the state.

“Obviously, anything we can do to lower taxes,” he said. “Property taxes, especially, are kind of a disadvantage to farmers. We are land intensive and we tend to get taxed a little higher than we think we should on services that don’t really have anything to do with ownership of land, so any way we can transfer some of that over to sales tax, or something like that, we would be in favor of.”

Federal legislative priorities in 2020

Several of the same legislative priorities on the state level are also priorities on the federal level.

Water quality

“Regulation — anything we can do to maintain a free-to-operate environment. Obviously, we need to take care of our environment, but sometimes it becomes a little bit of a burden,” Greif said. “People in Washington write laws that might be great in California, but they don’t pertain to Iowa.”

The Waters of the United States (WOTUS), for example, Greif said put a real undue burden on a lot of Iowa farmers by regulating waterways right up to the base of the farm.

“It basically classified streams as a navigable waterway and it might only have water in it one week of the year,” he said.


Taxes, Greif said, are also an issue at the federal level.

“It’s not that we don’t want to pay taxes, we just want to pay our fair share. Most of our federal taxes are income tax, but we want to see that we get something back for what we pay in,” he said. “Back to either water quality issues or incentives for FSA for cover crop programs and that kind of stuff. It seems like a lot of the money we pay doesn’t come back to the state of Iowa.”


Although there has been some improvement in the trade situation, Greif said the ICGA would like to see that continue.

“We appreciate things we have gained the last three weeks — the Japan trade agreement, the China trade agreement and the USCMA is probably the biggest,” he said. “Canada and Mexico are our largest trading partners, and we need to have a level playing field and with something that we can get the rules in place so we know what we are dealing with.”

The USMCA, Greif said, is probably one of the biggest success stories to come out of the ICGA and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) lobbying efforts.

“We have been lobbying for that since its inception and Congress, obviously, voted highly in favor of it, but a lot of that was because of lobbying efforts. The House of Representatives, as a rule, were probably against it, but several trips to D.C., and talking to our Congress people, personally, I think, we had a pretty good turnout voting in favor for it in the state of Iowa. Obviously it was kind of a partisan thing, but we were able to get our Democrats to vote for it. That was a big success for us.”

Greif said they are supportive of the trade possibilities the U.S. Grains Council is working on.

“They’re looking at trade with Southeast Asia and Vietnam, and even India is a potential for a trading grain market or ethanol especially,” he said.


The ICGA would like to retain the Renewable Fuel Standard and reduce regulatory barriers for higher blends.

The ICGA, Greif said, feels the EPA ruling on the supplemental rule for ethanol waivers wasn’t so successful in favor of Iowa corn growers.

“They promise us we are going to get what we wanted, but it’s not quite in the language we wanted,” he said. “I, personally, had a meeting in the White House with some staff people that promised us we are going to get what we asked for, but the wording is not there, so we will see.”

Greif said ethanol is the biggest export from the corn market right now.

“It’s the biggest value-added product that we have in the corn industry,” he said. “We have a relatively cheap fuel that is high in octane and good for the environment, so it’s a win-win for Iowa agriculture and the environment and the health of the American people.”

Greif said the ICGA along with the NCGA is trying to convey that issue to foreign countries as well.

“We’re trying to relay that to China and India and other countries that have air quality problems,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot of ethanol in the blend of fuel to clean up a lot of dirty air.”

Transportation infrastructure

The ICGA would like to see a maintenance and upgrade of our inland waterways system.

How does the ICGA accomplish these tasks?

Greif said the NCGA has lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and the ICGA employs lobbyists for the state of Iowa, but it goes beyond that.

“Personally, I have a good rapport with both senators and all four U.S. congress people. I try to maintain a personal relationship with them so we can stay on a person-to-person level,” he said.

Whether it is working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., or the state capitol in Des Moines, Greif knows the time and effort put into these priorities is worth it.

“Iowa grows corn, but corn grows Iowa, so anything we can do to promote the use of corn is good for the state of Iowa,” he said.


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