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Sodsaver program could be extended

This week, the American Prairie Conservation Act was introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Tim Walz (D-MN).

This bill strengthens the protections for native prairies and prime grasslands that were established in previous farm bills. It expands the existing “sodsaver” provision from six states (Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) to the entire U.S.

From the desk of the executive director: Farm bill renewal is in sight

Congress is in the process of writing another farm bill. Political distractions are running high in Washington. But distracted or not – the current farm bill expires in September 2018. 

If Congress fails to act, key farm bill initiatives that support beginning farmers, local and regional market development, and rural small businesses will come to a screeching halt. An opportunity to reform federal crop insurance and improve conservation programs also hangs in the balance. 

Our policy platform for the new farm bill stands around three pillars. 

Smart policy creates sunny outlook

The Iowa legislature created the Iowa Solar Energy System Tax Credit in 2012. Designed to encourage local investment, the credit offsets up to 15 percent of the cost of a new installation. Legislators included limits of $5,000 per home or $20,000 per business to ensure accessibility.

This incentive led to 2,524 new solar projects between 2012 and 2016. The new installments are spread across the state, with at least one in 97 of Iowa’s 99 counties. In total, the $16.4 million provided by the solar tax incentive has generated $123,248,595 of private investment.

Let’s accurately frame Nebraska’s property tax challenge

Property tax relief and adequate funding for schools and local governments was the topic of a recent community conversation in Nebraska City, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs. Community leaders and Otoe County residents gathered to discuss property tax challenges facing agricultural land and residential property owners and the radiating impact on schools and local governments.

Local food served on school lunch trays nationwide

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to recognize the importance of improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and educating communities about the origins of their food.

In 2016, the Center for Rural Affairs joined more than 220 organizations nationwide to promote farm to school throughout October. This year marks the seventh year for National Farm to School Month, designated by Congress to bring awareness to the growing importance of these programs in child nutrition, local economies, and education.

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