Opinion

College costs $20,000 a year

The month of July is flying by and we?ve all been busy. I recently attended a meeting in Iowa City at the University. The focus was concerns over the closing of the Labor Center and other cuts to several departments, including the State Hygienic Lab and Iowa?s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH).


The changes are the result of continued cuts to funding for the three regent universities in Iowa. Freshman students that will start attending our three state universities in August will be spending more. They and their parents know that it now takes $20,000 per year to go to college. That is $80,000 for a 4-year bachelor degree. Some students and some parents may spend decades paying school debt.


 


History of land grants


In July of 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Land-Grant College Act. This gave 30,000 acres of federal land to the state of Iowa. That land was sold and the money was used to establish the State Agricultural College in Ames, now Iowa State University.


This was so important that it occurred during our Civil War. Land grant universities are an enduring legacy of Lincoln?s presidency. The wise leaders of that time knew that our country?s future needed higher education accessible to all. A government of the people could and should provide education for the people.


Consensus today has withered away about higher education as a public goal. Our state support has been plummeting, shifting the financial burden onto students and families. I feel this needs to be reversed, and that public education is the bedrock of our democracy.


 


Southeast Iowa drought conditions


On a different topic, the three counties that I represent are experiencing drought. The rest of the state has been getting an excess of rain. According to the Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska, Davis County has entered into what is called an extreme drought. Last year, much of southeastern Iowa received a disaster designation. Federal assistance through the Farm Services Agency was given to several counties.


Jefferson and Van Buren counties each received three months of assistance. Davis County, which was probably the driest in the state, only received one month of assistance for cow/calf producers. This was the result of data collection that was not sufficient.


Cattle producers especially are feeling the negative impact again. Herd size is being reduced, hay is being fed and water is being purchased. Farm Service Agency help may be needed. I?m listening and working with local producers.


If the designation is declared financial assistance will be triggered which will include a Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program which provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Also available is the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) which provides assistance to eligible producers for livestock loss in excess of normal caused by adverse weather.


Because of this annual trend in southern Iowa, I encourage purchase of drought insurance through the federal government to protect farm business in the future. For more information, call the local Farm Services Agency in Fairfield at 641-472-2558, Keosauqua at 319-293-3371 and Bloomfield at 641-664-2616.


Finally, I attended a meeting in Keosauqua presented by the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition. SAFE is an acronym for substance abuse free environment. I listened to a conversation about what alcohol restrictions are in place for community events and the responsibility of social hosts. Underage drinking is a problem that exists and can lead to tragedy. Working together and continued dialog is a positive approach.


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you in the Iowa House. I look forward to hearing from you.


 


? Phil Miller serves District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes all of Davis and Van Buren counties, and most of Jefferson County. He can be reached at 641-472-2511, or at phil.miller@legis.iowa.gov.