Northey salutes conservation support

Iowans concerned about water quality in the Hawkeye State can take pride in the record of the Legislature this year.

That’s Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey’s message. He issued a statement early this month saluting the lawmakers for their continued support of his department’s approach to improving water quality.

“I appreciate the Legislature stepping up to continue funding voluntary, science-based water quality efforts in Iowa,” Northey said in a May 1 statement. “This funding would help us continue our efforts in targeted watersheds as well as provide funds to help farmers try new water quality practices statewide.”

The Legislature allocated $7.9 million for the Water Quality Initiative and $14.4 million for other conservation programs. That $22.3 million represents a strong legislative commitment to these important undertakings.

According to Northey, these funds will allow his department to continue its encouragement of water-quality practices. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship accomplishes this through a statewide cost share assistance initiative. Its agenda includes promoting intensive work in targeted watersheds. Northey additionally expressed pleasure that his department also has been given the authority to provide cost share assistance for urban conservation projects.

Included in monies provided by the Legislature for conservation efforts were:

$5 million in one-time funding to help address the backlog of state soil conservation cost-share projects,

$1.2 million to support the closure of eight additional agriculture drainage wells,

$1.5 million to the Watershed Improvement Review Board and

$1.3 million for the nutrient management research center at Iowa State University to support ongoing research on practices farmers can use to reduce nutrient losses.

The Messenger joins Northey in commending Iowa’s legislators for this impressive demonstration of support for his department’s important conservation work.