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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

The Greiner Report: February 14, 2014

By Sen. Sandra Greiner

The Iowa Senate, last week, reacted to the increase in LP fuels by approving SF 2110, a $2 million supplemental appropriation to the Division of Community Action Agencies to assist low income Iowans with heating bills.  The $2 million is to come from the General Fund.
Senator Ken Rozenboom, R-Oskaloosa, offered an amendment to strike the source of the funding (General Fund), but to increase the funding to $2.9 million using $1.9 million of loan repayment money from an economic development account and $1 million from administrative expenses.  The amendment failed.  SF 2110 passed the Senate on a vote of 41-8.
On Wednesday, last week, the Joint House and Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations subcommittee heard from Dr. Pat Halbur, head of Iowa State University’s Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Lab.  Dr. Halbur gave an interesting update on the progress being made in the search for an answer to the PedV problem in Iowa’s swine herds.  He called the Diagnostic Lab “ the Ultimate Example of the Land Grant mission.”
We are hoping to increase funding to allow for additional employees at the Lab.   New to the tasks being performed at the Diagnostic Lab is a test to identify Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).  New tests have been developed that require blood samples being pulled from live animals.  Previously, the only test available was done post mortem, and involved taking cultures from the brain.   This new test is an important step for those who own hunting preserves, and it is equally important for the State.  There was a time, not so long ago, when it appeared the State was going to require a Hunting Preserve in NW Iowa to depopulate.  The cost of the Indemnity Payment to the owner of the hunting preserve was “considerable.”  The new CWD test will allow animals not carrying the disease to be held back to rebuild the herd. This will save the state a nice chunk of change.
At the same meeting, Pheasants Forever made a presentation asking for increased funding for water quality and habitat improvement in hopes of re-growing the pheasant population in Iowa.   The 2011 pheasant population was the lowest ever recorded since roadside surveys began in 1941.  The 2011 harvest was 109,000 birds.  Last year, during the 2012 hunting season hunters reported harvesting 238,000 pheasants.
Iowa’s pheasant decline is tied to both weather and habitat loss.  Experts say the recent string of low pheasant counts (2008-2011) is due to the five consecutive years of severe weather from 2007-11, and a decline in habitat.  Preferred spring habitats for pheasants are grasslands such as hay, oats/wheat, and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) fields.  Preferred winter habitat is CRP or wetlands.  As CRP lands have become ‘old,’ the fields are becoming less inviting to pheasants and other nesting birds.  
Mail sent to me here at the Capitol should have the zip code 50319, and the Capitol Switchboard phone number is 515-281-3371.  My Legislative e-mail address is: sandra.greiner@legis.iowa.gov