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Iowa Department of Agriculture is helping the state succeed

By Staff | Jan 23, 2019

On New Year’s Eve, Mike Naig, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, released his department’s look back at the year just ending. It contains encouraging news.

The most recent annual review of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s accomplishments makes clear that Naig and his team fully appreciate that their success is vital to the Hawkeye State’s future.

Early in 2018, the Iowa Legislature passed and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law dedicated, long-term water quality funding that committed more than $280 million to water quality efforts in Iowa over a dozen years. As a result, IDALS received $2 million in 2018. It will receive $4 million this year and then $15 million annually. Some funds also will go to the Iowa Finance Authority to support communities upgrading wastewater treatment facilities and urban water quality focused practices.

The water-quality funding is being targeted toward conservation infrastructure practices such as wetlands, saturated buffers and bioreactors. These practices are placed on the edge of fields and provide significant, long-term nutrient reduction and habitat benefits. The science assessment as part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy shows these practices can reduce nitrate levels by 40 to 60 percent in tile drainage water.

In the IDALS report, Naig placed his department’s role in this clean-water initiative as a top priority.

“There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, but we are on the right path,” he said. “We are committed to continuing to work collaboratively, with science as our guide, to make significant water quality improvements in our state.”

According to IDALS, weather difficulties posed major challenges in 2018, resulting in highly negative consequences in some locales. Even so, the overall output of the state’s farms was excellent in 2018. Corn production of 2.52 billion bushels was the third-largest crop on record. The 577 million bushels of soybeans harvested in Iowa set a new record for the state.

The department’s report makes clear, however, that the uncertainties generated by trade negotiations require careful scrutiny because international sales are a key part of the market for Iowa farmers. IDALS is committed to helping our state’s agricultural producers grow markets worldwide.

“We need to be on the offense on trade, working to open and expand markets for our ag products,” Naig said.

Farm News congratulates Naig and his IDALS team on pursuing an agenda that is helping our state thrive. The efforts to make our waters cleaner have long-term benefits for Iowa. The promotion of international trade opportunities will benefit our economy in the year ahead and far into the future.

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