Dear Senators Kibbie and Gronstahl:
We, the undersigned food and agriculture organizations, would like to congratulate you on your Election Day victories. The people of Iowa, both rural and urban, have placed their trust in you. We know you are working hard to develop and implement an agenda that is good for Iowa, and will show the citizens that they elected true leaders with vision and wisdom…
…Democracy can be strengthened with more citizen participation in the process, breaking any view of special interest control.
We would like to suggest the following topics and initiatives.
1. An Ownership Society: Farm owner-operators should be the policy choice for the structure of Iowa agriculture. This goal requires open and competitive markets to minimize the excessive market power of dominant agribusinesses that raise input prices too high, and drive commodity prices too low. Strong support for new and beginning and transitioning farmers, as well as rural entrepreneurs, is needed to successfully bring young farmers into agriculture. We can also stem the loss of established farmers.
2. Environmental Stewardship: All rural and urban Iowans want clean air and clean water. They want their land values and quality of life preserved. Hog farmers want the spread of disease minimized or eliminated. We can grow the livestock economy, including reclamation of lost hog farrowing facilities, with smart environmental choices. The hog siting and manure spreading issues have gone on too long. They should be resolved. Local citizens should be empowered with land use authority, and allowed to control their own lives. Science-based state rules should set minimum standards on health and safety grounds. Urban and rural Iowans support this approach.
3. Energy Self Sufficiency: Iowa has tapped the potential of corn based ethanol. This should continue, but be supplemented by cellulosic ethanol, bio-diesel, wind and solar power. All utilities should pay retail rates to individual power generators. State investment and policy should continue supporting our withdrawal from foreign oil.
4. An Opportunity Society: Food generally travels more than 1,000 miles before consumption. Iowans import over 80% of their food, at a value of $6 billion annually. We can recapture some of this value for the state, with tremendous economic benefits. Support for direct farmer marketing to consumers and institutions should be strengthened. Organic food is a major part of this opportunity, because it is the fastest growing sector of the food production industry – growing 20% per year. Indeed, organic meat consumption is growing 50% annually. Iowa farmers can save on energy, and provide consumers safe, healthy and nutritious food.
5. Institutionalizing Change: The Iowa Food Policy Council should have a closer relationship with the legislature to promote producer and consumer progress. The
Department of Economic Development should include more rural entrepreneurship opportunities, such as developing value added marketing chains. Research and development in our public university system should be focused more on issues and problems for owner-operator agriculture promotion, rather than working with or for corporate-controlled agriculture. We wish to work with you to achieve and preserve this legacy. Iowa’s agricultural heritage is in danger of being lost, or taken over by out-of-state corporations. The urban support for agriculture and good food is tremendous. Rural Iowa economic development cannot be serious without including owner-operator agriculture.
Organization for Competitive Markets
Women’s Food and Agriculture Network
Iowa Farmers Union
Center for Rural Affairs
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
Iowa Network for Local Control
Iowa Network for Community Agriculture
Buy Fresh, Buy Local
Iowa Citizen’s Action Network
Iowa Human Needs Advocates
What Iowa Needs Done
Concerned Citizens of Clemons
Iowans for Local Control
Iowa Public Interest Research Group
Agree? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.