Center spared from elimination, but loses state funding

With its state funding eliminated, Leopold Center director Mark Rasmussen and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences endowed dean Wendy Wintersteen said options will be reviewed to discern the center's future with resources available from current or future philanthropy.

On May 12, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill that ended state funding to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, but used his line item veto to remove language that would have eliminated the center. University leaders and many alumni and supporters advocated for the line-item veto to preserve the center's existence.

"We are grateful to the Governor for the opportunity to retain the Leopold Center name, which is meaningful to the university and to many alumni, partners and stakeholders impacted by education or research results made possible by the center over the past three decades," Wintersteen said.

In a statement, Rasmussen said, "For 30 years, the Leopold Center has offered hope, new knowledge and significant research findings to Iowa and the nation. While we appreciate the name and the center will remain, the loss of all state funding severely restricts operations and our ability to serve our many stakeholders."

State funds reduced to zero

The legislation cut approximately $1.9 million in state support from the center, including a nearly $400,000 direct appropriation. The same bill eliminated a $1.32 million appropriation to the Iowa Nutrient Research Center -- also at Iowa State -- and replaced it with an estimated $1.5 million formerly received by the Leopold Center from a state pool generated through nitrogen fertilizer sales and pesticide registrations. The action essentially leaves intact the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, which in the last four years has funded more than 40 research projects led by ISU, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa scientists.

The legislation tasked the college with managing the completion of Leopold Center competitive-grant projects funded by previously allocated state funds. Currently, 49 projects are active. Other projects are funded by private gifts to the center and support for those will continue.

The Leopold Center receives about $250,000 each year generated from an endowment.

Decisions on future staffing of the center will follow established university policy on budget-related workforce changes or reorganizations. The center currently supports two faculty and six staff. Rasmussen will continue to serve as center director.