An initiative drive to put repeal of Idaho's controversial investment tax credit before voters this fall is lagging, and the Idaho Cattle Association is trying to bring it to a complete halt.

Association President Eric Davis has sent letters to every newspaper in the state, urging every farmer and ranch to refuse to sign the initiative petition that would put repeal of the $15 million business tax break on the November ballot."The association fully supports the people's right to vote on this or any other issue they choose," Davis said. "We simply urge that Idahoans - especially farmers and ranchers - choose not to place this particular issue on the ballot."

The campaign follows the association's recent state convention endorsement of the tax credit, that has been a revenue target of Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus since he took office 18 months ago.

After the Legislature's Republican majority repeatedly rejected the governor's plan to repeal the credit, Democratic state Rep. Ken Robison of Boise launched the initiative drive late in the legislative session.

But three months later, Robison has collected less than a third of the more than 38,000 signatures needed to qualify the repeal initiative for the ballot, and the submission deadline for the fall election is just three weeks away.

Like Andrus, Robison maintains the money now financing the credit could be better spent in other areas, particularly state aid to schools.

The credit, enacted for the 1983 tax year, allows businesses to deduct from their state tax liability 3 percent of the money they invested in new equipment up to half their total tax bill.