Iowa Legislative Update—April 1, 2024


It’s the 13th week of the Iowa legislative session. With attention now turned to the state budget, the Center for Rural Affairs needs your help urging legislators to pass House File (HF) 2599, which would establish the Iowa Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program and the Local Produce Processing Fund and Program.

Grocery stores are the backbone of many rural communities, providing essential resources as well as economic and social benefits. Inflation, supply chain issues, and increased online shopping have strained local grocers in recent years, especially in rural areas. Approval of HF 2599 is a critical step to increase support and ensure the sustainability and longevity of these important local businesses.

The bill needs to move through the appropriations process soon to remain eligible. Will you reach out to your local representative and members of the House Appropriations Committee and encourage them to support and fund the Grocer Reinvestment and Local Produce Processing programs today?

The Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program will provide financial support to grocers for cost-saving and business efficiency efforts to ensure long-term sustainability and encourage local food procurement.

The Local Produce Processing Fund and Program will invest in local fruit and vegetable processing with financial support to purchase equipment. This opportunity will allow for extended produce shelf life while increasing the sale of seasonal items, specifically in local grocery and farm stores in our weather-dependent state.

There has never been a more important time to invest in our rural communities and the grocery and farm stores that provide healthy, nutritious foods in low-income and low-food access areas across Iowa. HF 2599 is an important legislative component for uplifting this work. Click here to learn more about how to get involved.

If you have any questions or would like to share the rural issues important to you, please reach out to me at or call 402.687.2100 ext. 1034.

Thank you for making your rural voice heard.

Below are the bills we are following, with recent updates in bold.

Rural grocery

HF 2599 — Support: Rep. Brian Lohse introduced this bill in the House, and Rep. Chad Ingels has been serving as the floor manager. This Center priority bill would create the Grocer Reinvestment Fund and Program, appropriate money from the general fund, and give the Iowa Economic Development Authority direction to create a grant program for new or current grocery stores located in areas that are both underserved and low or moderate income. The legislation would prioritize cost-saving efforts and business efficiency measures to ensure the long-term sustainability of locally owned grocery stores. Additionally, this bill includes modifications to the Iowa Code under the Local Food and Farm Program. It changes the purpose and goals of the program to include and increase the sale of local food in grocery stores. The bill now is amended to include a local produce processing grant program. Priorities will be given to entities planning to increase the availability, access, efficiency, and capacity of local foods in Iowa. The House Economic Growth and Technology Committee met on Feb. 14 and recommended passage with the amendment. The bill was renumbered and referred to the Appropriations Committee, where it remains today. Next, the bill must be assigned to a subcommittee for consideration before moving to the full House Appropriations Committee, at which point Representatives must include an appropriation in their budget to fund both programs.

Watch: Rural Rapport: Heart of the Community-The Importance of Locally-Owned Grocery Stores

Water quality

HF 2642 (formerly HF 2614) — Monitor: Introduced in the House Agriculture Committee, this bill relates to the conservation and improvement of soil and water resources, including a name change to and restrictions on watershed management authorities (WMAs) in Iowa. The bill would allow soil and water conservation districts to broaden their purview by prioritizing soil health and require WMAs to spend all money for water quality nutrient reduction projects on practices designated by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. There is not a companion bill in the Senate. The bill passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on March 6 with approval on party lines. Amendments have been suggested. The bill will be considered on the floor for debate soon.

Renewable energy

All of the energy bills that we are tracking fell short of the funnel or have been placed under unfinished business. We will continue to monitor these as they may come back as amendments to other bills. 

Other bills of interest

HF 2641 (formerly HF 2510)/SF 2410 (formerly SF 2209) — Support: Proposed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, this legislation relates to programs and regulations administered by the department. The Center supports two key components of the bill. The Choose Iowa Promotional Program provides consumers an opportunity to purchase food originating in the state, which is designated with the Choose Iowa logo. This legislation also creates the Value-Added Grant Fund and Program, which supports projects and services that add value to agricultural commodities produced in Iowa. After passing through the Appropriation Committees, these bills await the floor for debate in each of their respective chambers.

HF 2257 — Support: Proposed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, this legislation proposes an amendment to the Meat and Poultry Inspection Act. The amendment would allow poultry processors to engage in custom operations if they maintain their state-licensed inspections. All packages processed on a custom basis must be marked “not for sale” and kept identified until the owner picks up the order. The House version of the bill passed unanimously through floor debate on Feb. 26. The Senate passed the same language unanimously on March 19. The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.

HF 2674 (formerly HSB 722) — Monitor: Introduced by Chairperson Bobby Kaufmann on the Ways and Means Committee, this bill relates to tax credits being awarded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority for capital contributions made to the Certified Rural Business Growth Fund for investments in qualified businesses. Limits are being offered for who can receive money from the fund. It should support rural communities across the state of Iowa. A subcommittee met to discuss the bill and recommended passage on Feb. 27. The bill passed through the House Ways & Means Committee on March 26 and has been renumbered. It awaits the floor for debate.