Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today requested $2.4 million for an agriculture water quality initiative in a public meeting with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds as part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s fiscal year 2014 budget request. The initiative also proposes an additional $4.4 million in funding for water quality practices in fiscal 2015.
“I understand that the budget remains very tight and the Governor and Legislature have a lot of tough decisions to make and I hope they will give this request strong consideration,” Northey said. “The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and this agriculture water quality initiative will help keep Iowa as a national leader in improving water quality.”
The Department’s agriculture water quality initiative request for fiscal 2014 would provide $575,000 for marketing and outreach, $1,675,000 for water quality initiative cost share and $150,000 for staffing.
The marketing and outreach funds would allow the Department to strategically collaborate with farm groups, environmental groups, the Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC), the Watershed Planning Advisory Council (WPAC) and other stakeholders to promote and implement conservation practices. This would include statewide outreach through farmer to farmer interactions and broad based communications to education farmers and encourage participation in voluntary water quality initiatives.
The water quality initiative cost share will focus on providing funds that will be matched by farmers or land owners to implement practices identified as being the most effective in nutrient reduction and improving water quality. The targeted scientifically-based practices include proper nutrient application, conservation tillage, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program wetlands, bio-reactors, no-till, cover crops, buffers and drainage water management. Targeted watersheds will be identified to implement these practices and further evaluate their effectiveness.
“I appreciate the opportunity to outline this proposal for the Governor and Lt. Governor and I look forward to working with them and the Legislature to keep moving Iowa’s water quality efforts forward,” Northey said.
Apart from the agriculture water quality initiative the Department requested a status quo budget that covers negotiated increases in personnel and benefit costs for employees. Northey also requested that funding for the agriculture drainage well closure program be maintained, which will allow the Department will finish closing 12 wells and bring the total number of closed wells to 262.