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Iowa farmers call approved budget cuts ‘devastating’

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture to be closed

By Diego Flammini
Assistant Editor, North American Content
Farms.com

Farmers in Iowa worry state budget cuts could hurt their industry.

Legislators recently approved a number of bills, including one that would close Iowa State University’s (ISU) Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The facility conducts research to help “identify and develop new ways to farm while conserving natural resources,” according to the Center’s website.

And farmers say the Leopold Center is needed now more than ever, since farm income is forecasted to drop for the fourth consecutive year.

“(It’s a) devastating blow,” Aaron Lehman, president of the Iowa Farmers Union, told AP.

The facility receives about 35 per cent of the Agriculture Management Account’s (AMA) funds (roughly $1.3 million) to carry out its tasks, according to the Center. The AMA is one of four accounts that make up the Groundwater Protection Fund.

Other sources of funding include an annual education appropriation of about $425,000, grants and private donations.

About $1.5 million from the state’s general fund budget previously earmarked for the Leopold Center will be given to Iowa State University’s Nutrient Research Center, according to the Des Moines Register.

Leopold Center supporters say its closing will leave a bad taste in farmers’ mouths.

“With this budget cut, lawmakers are saying that farmers don’t deserve the latest information and technology that is needed for them to produce a sustainable harvest,” an editorial in Iowa State Daily, ISU’s student newspaper, says.

The vote to keep the Leopold Center open failed with a 28-22 vote. Republicans cast all the votes to close the center, according to the Des Moines Register.

Other Iowa budget cuts include:

  • Cutting $1.45 million in the justice system’s victims’ assistance grants,
  • $41,279 from the Child Advocacy Board, and
  • $20 million in education spending.

Farms.com has reached out to producers in Iowa for their opinions on the potential closing of the Leopold Center.

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