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Funds available for INRS efforts

By Staff | Mar 5, 2014

Brian Kemp Sibley-area farmer and president of Iowa Soybean Association.

SIBLEY – Iowa has set aside an additional $4.16 million as cost-share incentives for farmers to implement water quality improvement in 2014, targeting eight at-risk watersheds within the state.

Another fund of more than $8 million in cost-share was secured for future projects.

In 2013, the Legislature funded $3 million in cost-sharing incentives – for cover crops, conservation tillage and nitrogen stabilization – as the state moves toward the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

The INRS was developed in part by the Iowa Department of Agriculture, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University.

It was designed to aid in the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus loads to Iowa’s waters and the Gulf of Mexico from point sources such as industry and non-point sources such as farms, by a minimum of 45 percent.

Gov. Terry Branstad, in a recent press release, said he was excited to see the momentum and the amount of progress that has been made since it was announced 11 months ago.

The president of the Iowa Soybean Association, Brian Kemp, a Sibley-area grain grower, said, “Iowa soybean producers will be more effective in meeting the nutrient reduction strategy on a voluntary basis than through regulations.”

Noting that Iowa’s landscape, soils and rainfall are diverse, it’s better for farmers to voluntarily choose what practices work for their operations.

The choices are varied, Kemp said, but proven effective and include reduced tillage, buffer strips, terraces, waterways, cover crops and split applications of nutrients.

One system or practice will not be effective for every producer, Kemp said.

Giving producers opportunities to select science-based land management choices, the possibility of success in implementing the plan is much greater.

“The Iowa Soybean Association,” Kemp said, “supports making these decisions on a farm-by-farm basis.

“This allows farmers to improve their methods and leave a smaller environmental impact, thus policing themselves and learning from their counterparts.

“Yet, there seem to be some people who are either unaware of the current efforts being made in this area, or just wish to discount them.”

Critics of the INRS believe that governmental regulation is the preferred method for cleaning surface waters.

They say voluntary compliance could take years.

INRS proponents, counter that government mandates will lead to farmers trying to stay legal, rather than make sustainable land management choices on their farms.

The ISA, Kemp said, voluntary compliance will create an environment cohesive to the growth and improvement of farming, considering that every farmer’s situation is different.

While the positive effects will not be able to be measured immediately, Kemp said, the combined efforts of all will prove to have long-term effects on Iowa’s surface water quality, leading to cleaner Mississippi River Basin and the Gulf of Mexico.

Ultimately the involvement of both public and private entities will increase the success of this program, he said, ensuring Iowa holding true to being an environmental force and growing as a leader in this area.

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