ACTION ALERT: Hearing on proposal to defund Leopold Center


  • WHEN: Monday, April 17, 10:00AM-12:00PM
  • WHERE: Iowa State Capitol, Room 103 (Supreme Court Chamber)
  • WHAT: Public hearing on proposed budget bills for Agriculture & Natural Resources, Education, Judicial, Justice Systems, RIIF

As you know, budget proposals introduced in the legislature earlier this week would eliminate funding for the Leopold Center and end the Center’s operations as of July of this year:

  • The education budget bill would eliminate a $400,000 annual appropriation to the Leopold Center from the state’s general fund.
  • The agriculture & natural resources budget bill would reassign approximately $1.5 – $2 million in annual revenue from a tax on sales of nitrogen fertilizer that has been used to fund the Leopold Center’s work; this bill also directs the closure of the Leopold Center effective July 2017.


  • ATTEND THE HEARING: Now that we have a hearing scheduled, we need to make sure that the room is full! We are asking people to please wear green in support of the Leopold Center and their mission to support sustainable agriculture in Iowa.
  • SIGN UP TO SPEAK AT THE HEARING: On-line sign-up is available here. We need to be sure that we have a full list of speakers signed up to oppose the funding cuts. You must be signed up before hand if you want to speak. Speakers will be limited to 3 minutes per person, so please prepare your remarks ahead of time (some basic guidelines are included below). You can also submit written comments via the on-line sign-upNOTE: please indicate that you are taking the “CON” position, as we are opposing cuts proposed in the budget.
  • KEEP CALLING: If you haven’t already, please keep making phone calls to your legislators and members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. The number for the House switchboard is (515) 281-3221. The number for the Senate switchboard is (515) 281-3371. You can find a full list of Appropriations Committee members on the Iowa Legislature webiste (click here for the Senate list; click here for the House list).
  • SPREAD THE WORD: Please share this action alert with friends and contacts – this is a VERY busy time of year for farmers, and we want to make sure we are getting the word out and packing the house!

What should you say to legislators?

Whether you are speaking at the hearing, submitting written comments, or calling your legislator, stay concise and try to cover these three main points:

(1) Why is the Leopold Center important to you personally? Tell your personal story – as a farmer, as a student at ISU, as an advocate for farmers, as an Iowan who likes to eat locally grown food and drink clean water. Explain how the research and education conducted and funded by the Leopold Center specifically impacts you.

(2) Why should legislators care about the work done by the Leopold Center? Place your personal story in a larger context – explain why all this matters generally to the citizens and voters of Iowa. For example, we expect our elected officials to offer real solutions to problems facing our state like: water quality, the struggling farm economy, the lack of beginning farmers, the long term reliability of our food system, etc. These are the larger issues that you and other voters will hold them accountable for if they fail to offer real solutions.

(3) What are you asking legislators to do? Be sure to state your ask clearly: Don’t defund the Leopold Center. Don’t close the Leopold Center.

General Tip: You really only need to be the expert on your personal story, but it also helps to be educated on the details of what you are talking about. For example:

  • Since 1998, the Leopold Center has funded over 600 competitive grants for vitally important research to improve the sustainability and profitability of Iowa’s family farms. Leopold Center grants have allowed many Iowa farm organizations such as IFU, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Women Food & Agriculture Network, and Center for Rural Affairs to carry out research and educational projects directly with our farmer members.
  • The research and education carried out by the Leopold Center and its grant partners covers a broad range of topics, including: water quality, soil health, nutrient management, livestock grazing, cover crops, biodiverse cropping systems, and development of local food systems. These projects have helped farmers improve the effectiveness and cost of conservation practices, diversify their farming operations to manage risk and improve profitability, identify new markets for their crops, and build the long term resilience of Iowa’s agricultural production and farm economy.
  • Six major projects carried out by the Leopold Center since 1998 have resulted in 22,500 acres converted to conservation practices and structures; those six projects reached more than 51,000 individuals, including 13,000 farmers.
  • Leopold Center funding generates an additional $5 million each year in federal and private grant revenue to support research and educational activities. This means that – in addition to the direct loss of state support – Iowa State and organizations working with Iowa farmers would lose access to other significant sources of financial support for much needed agricultural research initiatives.

Iowa Farmers Union
PO Box 1883 Ames, IA 50010-1883