With 650 employees and 5,000 farmer-owners – Landus has a significant rural footprint in Iowa. As harvest approached this fall – as always Landus discussed safety and accident prevention. One employee took the time to contact Landus Management and Rural Matters to point out the lack of certainty and response time for EMS (emergency medical services) in much of rural Iowa. This spurred much internal discussion on how we can keep members, employees, and Iowa’s rural population safe, as well as what might be the solutions for rural Iowa going forward.
Most of us think that dialing 9-1-1 guarantees an immediate response with an ambulance on its way to the emergency. Sadly, this is not always the case, as EMS services are not guaranteed as an essential service. Much of rural Iowa has a lack of services and volunteers which will cause a delay when minutes are critical in life-saving situations.
Senate File 615, signed into law by Governor Kim Reynolds in June 2021 provides the framework for counties to deem the service essential. It allows individual counties to create a referendum to raise property taxes to fund EMS.
As counties have approached this $.67/1000 property tax bond referendum, to fund the county’s EMS services, questions of how the funding is spent – such as which towns get the money for which services have made passage of the vote difficult.
Even if the rural EMS organizations could have enough funding, staffing the services with qualified professionals poses challenges. Heavily relied on by volunteers, 241 EMS organizations have paid staff while 563 organizations depend on volunteers.
With ag-related accidents in and out of the harvest season, the matter of life and death can be a matter of minutes. Landus is working to keep the rural EMS organizations viable through our annual rural fire and rescue grant. Last year, Landus donated $50,000 to fire and rescue locations within the Landus trade territory. Learn more about Landus fire and rescue organization grants on our donations page.
Arkansas Land Divestment Stance
On October 17, 2023, Arkansas Governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders passed a first of its kind law that forces Northrop King Seed Company, a Syngenta Seed company, which is also owned by a Chinese-State owned company, China National Chemical Company, (a.k.a. ChemChina) to divest its land holdings in the state.
Arkansas Attorney General, Tim Griffin, has ordered a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, a company ultimately owned by a Chinese state-owned enterprise, to divest its ownership interest in about 160 acres of land due to the state's recently enacted foreign ownership law. In 2023, the Arkansas state legislature passed SB 383, which restricts certain countries, including China, from investing in land within the state.
Additionally, the state has imposed a $280,000 penalty on Syngenta for failing to file a required notice of their landholdings to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. More information on foreign ownership of ag land is available here.
While this action by Arkansas is first in the nation, there has been much discussion in Washington D.C. regarding the restriction of foreign land ownership. All of Iowa’s Senate and Congressional members have spoken out against foreign agricultural land ownership in 2023.
Although Iowa has a standing law that restricts the foreign purchase of land, it’s not clear how well this law has been enforced. This first step Arkansas has taken may spark further action on this topic.
As Landus approaches the coming legislative sessions – both Iowa and national, and especially the Farm Bill. We would like to know how you feel about these topics and others, and which rural issues are most important to you and your farming operation. You can always share your thoughts by connecting with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our social media channels.