2019 Iowa Legislative Session: Bills Impacting Agriculture

April 30, 2019 | Kristine A. Tidgren

During Iowa’s 2019 Legislative Session that ended Saturday, April 27, legislators passed a number of bills impacting agricultural producers and rural landowners. Below is a review of the highlights.

Tax and Estate Planning

HF 768 – Beginning Farmer Tax Credit

This law would expand and modifies Iowa’s Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program. For more detailed information on this bill, read this article.

Passed: 04/25/2019. Effective retroactively to 01/01/2019 if signed by the Governor.

HF 778 – Iowa Capital Gain Deduction for the Sale of Property Used in a Farming Business

This law would modify a capital gains deduction provision in Iowa’s tax reform bill that was passed last year. The provision, not set to be effective until 2023 and then only if state revenue targets are met, would restrict the Iowa capital gain deduction to the sale of real property used in a “farming business” provided that the taxpayer “materially participated” in the farming business for at least 10 years, held the real property for at least 10 years, and sold the real property to a “relative.”  The new law, if enacted, would increase the eligible family members included in the definition of "relative" to include second cousins and any relative who is a part owner in the existing business. It would also allow a farm residence to be included in the definition of real property used in a farming business and remove provisions restricting the deduction if the relative sells or transfers the real property within five years of the original sale.

Passed: 04/25/2019. Effective in the future (as noted in the law) if signed by the Governor.

SF 220 – Increased Section 179 Deduction for Corporation, S corporations, and Financial Institutions

This new law retroactively expanded the 2018 enhanced Section 179 deduction ($70,000) and reduction limitation ($280,000) to apply to S corporations, C corporations, financial institutions, and LLCs and partnerships taxed as corporations.  These groups were subject to a $25,000 deduction and a $200,000 reduction limitation for 2018. For more information, read this article.

Passed: March 11, 2019. Signed by the Governor on March 15, 2019. Effective retroactively to January 1, 2018.

HF 328 – Definition of Vulnerable Elder

Under current law, Iowa Code § 235F.1(17) defines “vulnerable elder” as a person 60 years of age or older who is unable to protect himself or herself from elder abuse either as a result of the person’s age or as a result of the person’s mental or physical condition.” This new law would add “or because of a personal circumstance which results in an increased risk of harm to the person” to the end of this definition. This bill was meant to clarify that being 60 years of age or older alone does not make a person a “vulnerable elder.” This change was in response to Upon the Petition of Judith Ann Chapman, No. 15–0153 (Iowa Sup. Ct. Feb. 24, 2017), which held, in a 4-3 opinion, that age alone was sufficient to meet the definition under the current statute.

Passed: 4/25/2019. Effective date will be 07/01/2019 if signed by the Governor.

Agency Appropriations or Administrative Updates

HF 750 – Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Updates

This law would make some administrative changes to IDALS. The name of the state “Weather Bureau” would change to the “Climatology Bureau.” It would also provide for the issuance of two-year licenses to manufacturers or distributors of commercial feed, manufacturers of fertilizers and soil conditioners, and distributors of bulk dry animal nutrient products. Licenses for commercial feed would expire on July 1 of each odd-numbered year and licenses for fertilizers and soil conditioners would expire on July 1 of an even-numbered year. Licenses for bulk dry animal nutrient products would be for two-year periods expiring on July 1 of each even-numbered year. The license fee would increase from $10 to $20 for each place of distribution. The law would also eliminate a provision that authorizes IDALS and IDNR to establish watershed demonstration products.

Passed: 04/23/2019. Effective 07/01/2019 if signed by the Governor.

SF 409 – Iowa Department of Natural Resources Administrative Changes

This law would make some administrative changes to IDNR. The law would standardize the appeal period for all orders issued by the director to 60 days. It would also, among other changes, provide that a rural water association shall have met the permitting requirements for sewer extensions and water distribution systems if the rural water association employs or retains a licensed engineer.  

Passed 04/23/2019. Effective immediately if signed by the Governor.

SF 609 – Appropriations for Agricultural and Natural Resources

In addition to making yearly appropriations, this bill would allow the IDNR to use unappropriated funds in the Fish and Game Protection fund to compensate retiring conservation peace officers.  It also specifies that any agricultural drainage well identified after January 1, 2019, will not be eligible for state cost-share funding and the landowner must pay to close the well. The law would also require the Iowa geological survey to be made available electronically via an internet site maintained for that purpose.

Passed 04/23/2019. The law would become effective immediately if the Governor signs the bill.


HF 769 – Weight Increase for “Special Trucks”

This law would increase the maximum gross weight registration for “special trucks,” from 32 tons to 39 tons. Special trucks include motor truck or truck tractors used for certain farming and commodity transportation purposes, but not for hire. This law would allow farm special registration to be used on six and seven axle trucks. The laws would also impose an additional $25 per ton between 32 and 38 tons and an additional $10 fee between 38 and 39 tons.

Passed: 04/26/2019. Effective immediately if signed by the Governor.

SF 555 – Weight Limitations for Certain Implements of Animal Husbandry

This law standardizes weight limitations for certain implements of husbandry.

Passed 03/26/2019. Effective 07/01/2019 after being signed by the Governor on 04/08/2019

Sale of Mushrooms

SF 265 – Sale of Certain Mushrooms at Farmers’ Markets

This law would require the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals to adopt rules to govern the sale of wild mushrooms commonly referred to as the wild golden oyster mushroom. This would include training for those selling the mushroom.

Passed: 04/16/2019. Effective immediately once signed by the Governor on May 6.

Agricultural Production Facility Trespass

SF 519 – Agricultural Production Facility Trespass

This law makes it a crime to obtain access to or employment with an agricultural production facility by use of deception with the intent to cause “physical or economic harm or other injury.” A person who violates this law is guilty of a serious misdemeanor for the first offense and an aggravated misdemeanor for any subsequent offense. The law also criminalizes conspiracy to commit agricultural production facility trespass. On April 22, five advocacy groups filed a lawsuit challenging this new law. For more information read this article.

Passed March 12, 2019. Effective when signed by the Governor on March 14, 2019.

Industrial Hemp

SF 599 – Regulation of Industrial Hemp

This law would pave the way for the future legal production of industrial hemp within the state. For more information on this legislation, read this article.

Passed 04/24/2019. Law is effective immediately if Governor signs the bill, but hemp production will remain unlawful until regulations are issued.

Hunting and Right to Bear Arms

HF 325 – Non-Ambulatory Hunters

Under current law, non-ambulatory hunters may use only a shotgun or a muzzle-loading rifle while using any sex deer hunting license during any established deer hunting season. This new law would allow these hunters to use an unfilled deer license in a following season using the approved method of take for that season. Once the tag is filled in one season, the license will not be valid for a subsequent season.

Passed: 4/15/2019. Effective date will be 07/01/2019 if signed by the Governor

SJR 18 – Joint Resolution Proposing an Amendment to the State Constitution

Iowa is one of six states that does not have language in the Constitution protecting the right of Iowans to bear arms. The House and Senate passed resolutions on March 13, 2019 to propose an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that imposes a strict scrutiny standard regarding any infringement of this right. Only three states currently have such a standard in their constitutions. The language of the resolution states:

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

This proposed amendment cannot go before the people of Iowa for a vote until at least 2022.


We will be watching for Governor Reynolds to sign these bills and will update this post accordingly.