The legislature’s proposed 2018 budget would cut all state funding to the award-winning Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and eliminate it as an independent entity. This decision is being made hastily and without public input.
The Iowa Legislature adopted laws creating the Leopold Center through a bipartisan effort during the farm crisis of thirty years ago. Governor Branstad signed it into law. In their move to eliminate the Leopold Center, the legislature is not following Gov. Branstad and has struck out on their own in a manner that has public ethic concerns as well.
The purpose of the Leopold Center is to provide research, education and demonstration projects to show ways farmers can adopt sustainable ag practices and be profitable. That mission, as well as a description of Aldo Leopold’s sense of a land ethic, are laid out in Iowa Code.
Here are just a few examples of the Center’s contributions:
-22,500 acres shifted to more efficient conservation practices and structures such as riparian buffers to reduce nitrate runoff and soil erosion and to improve water quality and wildlife habitat.
-51,277 individuals participated in project-related outreach activities, 25% of whom were farmers and agricultural professionals.
-1,078 farmers changed their farming practices to implement conservation measures as a result of the Center’s projects – more than 100 farmers each year.
In fact, the Center pioneered research that led to suggested practices in Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is championed by many at the Statehouse.
It is clear that such an incredibly drastic budget cut to the Leopold Center would result in the loss of an Iowa treasure and the future of the state will be worse for it.
Even though this bill does not yet have a number, it is moving very quickly. The Education Budget Subcommittee passed it this afternoon without any actual bill language and the full Appropriations Committee may vote as early as tomorrow.
We need you to stand up for the valuable work The Leopold Center provides for Iowa and the rest of the country by sending an email to your legislators right now and then by calling them tomorrowmorning.
This is our last chance to ensure that groundbreaking research to improve agriculture remains in Iowa.