Letters from readers
To the editor:
The front page of FN “Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy turns five” and the front page headlines of EVERY Iowa agricultural publication, including the “Newspaper Iowa Depends on,” covered the anniversary. With almost orgasmic glee, the governor, secretary of agriculture and, quite naturally, the Iowa Nutrient Research Center (formed because, I guess, we needed an organization JUST to assist the implementation) trumpeted the 5 year anniversary. W/o any, as far as I could tell, actual figures showing the reduction of P and nitrate loads in our surface water going to the Gulf of Mexico.
Is the fact Iowa has spent almost $25,000,000 of taxpayer money worthy of celebration? The huge majority was spent paying farmers $25/acre for a cover crop (CC) which, unfortunately, was a waste of money because less than 2 % planted a cover crop the following year using their own money. The reason, I suspect, is $25/acre covers the ENTIRE cost of planting a CC, and it is well-established a “new” practice is more likely to be accepted when the farmer has some “skin in the game!” A lesser rate would reach more farmers who have a real interest in using CC as an integral part of their crop production plans.
The ONLY 2 permanent practices to achieve the necessary reduction is no-till and CC. If every crop acre in Iowa was no-tilled and protected with a cover crop, the problem will be solved! ALL others practices (terraces, CREP, bioreactors, saturated buffers and others) are merely expensive practices which are NOT solutions, but merely delaying tactics.
I wonder how many Iowans know WHY the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) was formed? The NRS is a joint VOLUNTARY effort formed by multiple partners for the express purpose of reducing the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico BEFORE the federal government gets involved. This is less likely under president Trump, but, HOWEVER, this effort must still continue. Successful implementation of the NRS will restore Iowa’s surface water improving the quality of life. Farmers will make MORE money and have the satisfaction of being the solution instead of the problem!
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