As Iowa is one of the states in which PAN does on-the-ground campaign work, we send out regular updates on PAN’s and partners’ work in Iowa and beyond — from pesticide-related science to opportunities to take action. If you’d like to receive these updates via email, sign up here.
2020 Legislative Session: The Iowa Legislature resumed business on June 3 and adjourned on June 15, closing the books on a session that showed positive progress for bills supported by the Pesticide Action Network. Two bills related to pesticide drift were passed through the sub-committee and committee levels, and a third bill, sponsored by the Iowa Young Farmers Coalition, was signed into Iowa law by the governor. We would like to congratulate our own Carmen Black for leading the charge and creating opportunities for success during this legislative season. Thanks, Carmen!
Two complementary pieces of legislation involving Iowa’s Pesticide Bureau received support in 2020. The first (SF 2211) would mandate the development of an online drift case management system and the second (SF 601) would place fines for chemical misapplications into a fund for the Pesticide Bureau, rather than the general fund. Both bills would support the Pesticide Bureau in its efforts to enforce use-label restrictions and victims of chemical trespass would benefit from improved access to label enforcement services. While neither of these bills were put up for a vote in 2020, we are optimistic that similar legislation can find increased support in future sessions.
A bill protecting a small farm’s ability to hold events that promote and educate the public about agricultural practices, activities or products (HF 2477) did pass both the House and Senate and was signed into law on June 1st. County restrictions in some locations throughout the state required permits or variances for events being held on farms under a minimum acreage. This new law is a step towards supporting new farmers and diversified farms throughout the state.
Primary Elections: Iowa’s Secretary of State Paul Pate directed his office to mail absentee ballot requests to all registered voters. This move helped Iowa to set new records for voter turnout in the June 3rd primaries, with most of the returns coming from absentee balloting (over 400,000 returned). Unfortunately, members of the Senate have responded to this effort by hi-jacking a minor bill pertaining to the use of county seals and amending it with language that would prohibit similar actions in the future. While this has not yet been signed into law by Governor Reyolds, it is concerning to see movement against actions that encourage voter participation in the state.
Dicamba registration revoked: On June 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of farmers and environmentalists by disallowing the provisional registration of dicamba products for ‘over-the-top’ application on soybeans and cotton. The decision cited damage to millions of acres of non-target crops and indicated that the EPA had “failed to acknowledge risks” of the chemical. Unfortunately, the EPA’s response did not follow the court order, allowing chemical reserves to be used until July 31 of this year. In response, the plaintiffs for the case (including PAN) have petitioned the court to enforce the initial ruling. The EPAs rule is especially important in Iowa since Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig has made it clear that Iowa will follow the EPA’s direction.
USDA reviewing new GE corn: A new Genetically Engineered (GE) corn that would be resistant to five different herbicides is being reviewed by USDA. While this product is being touted as providing more options for the farmer, approval of this product would simply reduce the tools available to farmers in their toolbox and will potentially force them to select these seeds for their own fields as a defense against drift from neighboring locations. Stay tuned for upcoming opportunities to take action.
The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) will host Dr. Silvia Secchi, who will present the topic The Economic Intersection of Climate Change and Agriculture on June 18 at 12:30 pm.
Learn about cost share opportunities for cover crops in Iowa at a virtual field day presented by the Center for Rural Affairs (CRA) on June 18 at 1 pm.
You can make a full day of it on June 18, by attending a virtual event sponsored by Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) covering the topic Prairie Strips and Conservation on Rented Ground.
The Iowa Organic Association will feature farmer Matt Miller as he shares techniques for Early Season Weed Control on June 25 at 7:30 pm.
With Pollinator Week coming up (June 22-28), we encourage you to visit the Xerces Society and consider attending one of their numerous webinars. This June 30 event discusses how we can Conserve Bumble Bees in our Natural Areas.
Please take the time to view each of these organizations calendars for the numerous opportunities to participate and learn more.
Black Lives Matter: PAN stands firmly in solidarity with the Black community and protesters in communities across the country who are demanding justice and calling for an end to systemic racism and oppression. We understand that dismantling systemic racism is central to our work of creating healthy, just food and farming systems for all. Now is a moment to amplify the voices and support the urgent demands of Black leaders in our communities.