A bill to dissolve Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture goes to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s desk.
The Iowa Senate voted to dismantle the center last week.
Leopold Center Director Mark Rasmussen says the bill came as a complete surprise.
“We had really no clue. There had been a legislative request around six months ago on what they call an issue review on the various expenditures that are going on in Iowa in regards to water quality so we made our small contribution to that review as to what we were doing.”
The center just celebrated its 30-year anniversary a few weeks ago. Rassmussen calls the closing of the center an embarrassment.
“Sustainability is becoming a really focused effort all across industry and many businesses. I don’t think you can look at an annual report of any company in the United States, especially in the food and Ag industry that doesn’t have some page or comments about sustainability. For Iowa to be in the news as basically stepping back from the sustainability movement, personally I think it is a mistake.”
Republicans site difficult budget decisions is to why they voted to close the center.
Senate File 510 dismantles the Leopold Center and shifts money to the Iowa nutrient research fund or Iowa Nutrient Research Center.
According to the Des Moines Register, the Legislature’s 2018 agriculture budget provides $38.8 million to state programs through the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Department of Natural Resources and the Board of Regents.
It’s a reduction of about $4.3 million from the 2016 budget year.