WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa nonprofit that promotes agricultural education and preservation has lost most of its funding because of congressional gridlock over the federal budget.
The Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area lost about three-quarters of its funding because the latest short-term budget resolution didn't include money for the National Park Service to review the group.
Organization president Don Short said he was surprised to learn his group had lost funding.
"It's going to change the way we do business a little bit. But we are still going to be in business," Short said.
Silos and Smokestacks helps more than one hundred eastern Iowa farms, museums and nature areas. It also helps educate area students about farming and agriculture by organizing field trips and sponsoring internships.
Short said he hopes lawmakers will restore temporary funding for his organization, but the earliest that could happen would be after the November election.
In fiscal 2012, $709,733 of the organization's $816,000 budget came from federal funding.
The Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area includes 37 Iowa counties north of Interstate 80 and east of Interstate 35. It works with more than 135 groups within that area to help explain the importance of Iowa's agricultural past.
Jordan Hansen said the Silos and Smokestacks group has helped improve his Hansen's Farm Fresh Dairy by providing workshops on tourism and paying for a summer intern. Hansen said he thinks the group's efforts to help people understand agriculture is important.
"Farming is a very big part of Iowa. And we don't want that to get lost," Hansen said.
Short said he should be able to keep most of the organization's educational programs running for a while with help from local supporters. But the grant program, which paid for the intern at Hansen's dairy, will likely be affected.