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Iowa GOP proposal would cut funding for Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

(June 4, 2002 CropChoice news) This article comes from the Agribusiness Examiner.

Iowa's Governor [convened a special session of the State Legislature May 28] to deal with the state's deepening budget crises. More cuts need to be made to the coming fiscal year (FY03) budget in light of reduced revenue projections. In the proposed Republican budget, environmental funding takes a disproportionately large cut.

Environmental programs currently get only 1.2% of general fund and infrastructure appropriations, but nine percent of the proposed cuts comes on the back of environmental programs. Iowa already is last in the nation in per capita spending on the environment, and the proposed cuts put it even farther behind. If the cuts take effect, Iowa will spend only 0.7% of the state budget on environmental protection.

The tragedy of these cuts and anemic funding is that these environmental programs are proactive, preventative solutions to problems. Iowa's environmental initiatives are some of the most cost-effective public expenditures, when considered the cost of clean up or restoration after damage has already occurred. They're in line with a core Iowa value ---

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Today's costs for these programs are minuscule compared to the benefits Iowa receives for the tomorrows to come.

Of particular concern to the Council is the drastic cut to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. On the table is a cut of $1 million, reducing the Center's budget by 86%. The budget cut from $1.16 million last year to less than $200,000 effectively ends this nationally recognized, innovative program supporting sustainable agricultural development.

Losing the Leopold Center would be a catastrophe. The Center serves as an incubator for sustainable agricultural practices that will pay significant dividends down the road-in cleaner water, less soil erosion, and greater agricultural vitality. These budget cuts to the Leopold Center today sacrifice significant economic and environmental benefits tomorrow.

The proposed Republican budget cuts to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture are shortsighted. Such a loss would have detrimental long-term impacts on the viability of Iowa's agricultural economic base. The cuts sacrifice one of the most innovation and beneficial long-term investments that can be made with public money.

Source: The Agribusiness Examiner