May 2018 Legislative Priorities

May 2018 Legislative Priorities

Through the policy process at the annual meeting in January, the Iowa State Dairy Association set their 2018 legislative priorities. The priorities consisted of two funding priorities and one policy priority.

Funding Priorities

  1. Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) funding:Following the 2015 Avian Influenza outbreak in the Poultry and Turkey industries, the livestock groups came together to develop a dedicated position within the Iowa Department of Agriculture to focus on animal disease. The original funding request was for $500,000.  Last year the legislature gave the program $100,000 to begin implementation, and this year the department budget request was for an additional $150,000. The Governor put the full $250,000 in her budget proposal and the legislators agreed. FAD funding was increased in the Agriculture Appropriation budget to  $250,000, for FY2019.
  2. Veterinary Diagnostic Lab fundingThe Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL) was built in the 1970s and is both obsolete and overcrowded. The regents have had VDL funding as their number one priority for two years. They requested $20M for five years, for a total state appropriation of $100M, recognizing the remaining $25M will need to be raised from outside sources.Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL) Funding was included in the RIIF Appropriation. While the Governor recommended $20M for five years starting in FY2020, the legislature set their appropriation amount at $12.5M for five years starting in FY2020 with $1M for planning money in FY2019. Legislators understood the importance of a new facility, but lacked the understanding of the high cost of building a comprehensive lab. Since the building money isn’t appropriated until FY2020, coalition members can use the time to better educate and explain the cost associated with the VDL in order to lobby for an increased appropriation going into next year.

Policy Priority

It is extremely important for ISDA to maintain a high standard of quality of its milk product within the industry. Therefore for years the association has been adamantly opposed to the introduction of raw milk in the state of Iowa, recognizing that the contaminated raw milk that causes harm to an individual could be a detriment to all milk production in the state.

ISDA was also heavily involved in defeating three raw milk bills that were introduced in the House Local Government Committee:

  • HF 2055 related to unpasteurized milk being available for sale directly by the dairy operator.
  • HF 2056 related to unpasteurized milk being available for consumption if the consumer had shared ownership in the dairy animal.
  • HF 2057 related to unpasteurized milk being available for sale as commercial fee.

ISDA used facts and data to educate legislators about the seriousness of allowing raw milk sales in Iowa and it still took three weeks to defeat the bills.  Most surprising were the legislators located in the middle of diary production areas in Iowa who were unconvinced that raw milk, and more specifically a raw milk illness, could harm the industry. Dairy farmers need to take time during the interim to talk to their legislators about the importance of keeping the dairy industry strong and Iowa milk safe.