New Iowa local food program receives state funding

Iowa will implement a new “Local Food and Farm Initiative” as part of the agriculture and natural resources budget that Governor Terry Branstad signed into law yesterday. Democratic State Representative Chuck Isenhart announced the goals of the program and some of the potential benefits in a press release, which I have posted after the jump. Isenhart thanked Branstad for signing the bill and acknowledged the bipartisan group of legislators who helped him push for this funding: Republican House Agriculture Committee Chair Annette Sweeney, Republican House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Jack Drake, Democratic Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Joe Seng, Democratic Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Budget Subcommittee Chair Dennis Black, and Republican State Senator Hubert Houser, the ranking member of that subcommittee.

During the 2010 legislative session, the Iowa House and Senate instructed the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University to develop an “Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan.” The center submitted that plan to the state legislature in January 2011. This pdf document summarizes its 34 recommendations, or you can download the whole Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan here (63-page pdf).

Isenhart represents House district 27, covering part of Dubuque. He championed this program in part because the city’s Sustainable Dubuque initiative has a goal of providing more “healthy local food” to residents. Isenhart’s news release noted that the new program will also benefit areas in Iowa covered by one of the Leopold Center’s regional food system working group. After the jump I’ve posted a list of 16 local food networks which are part of that Leopold Center program. They span about 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Speaking of the Leopold Center, I haven’t heard anything lately about an Iowa State agronomy professor’s proposal to move the center from the supervision of the College of Agriculture to the offices of ISU’s President or Vice President for Research and Economic Development. The Board of Regents will hire a new ISU president during the next year. That person should recognize and support the Leopold Center’s work. However, the new head of the Board of Regents, who will be chairing the ISU hiring process, is Craig Lang, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. The Farm Bureau has already tried to interfere too much in the Leopold Center’s work.  

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