Iowa Farm Groups Form New Water Quality Alliance

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Iowa farm groups yesterday announced the launch of an alliance which will help find out how better water quality improvements can be achieved.

Iowa Pork producers, Iowa Soybean Producers and Iowa Corn Growers have pledged to provide $200,000 every year towards supporting the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance.

This was said by Kirk Leeds, who is the chief executive officer of the Iowa Soybean Association in a well publicized press conference which featured Bill Northey, the Iowa’s agriculture secretary and Gov. Terry Branstad.

However, as soon as the advertisement was made, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a group that advocated for more strict regulation of livestock operations became the first to criticize the move.

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“They said that the strategy adopted will not provide any improvement in the quality of polluted water in Iowa unless when it’s strengthened with enforceable and measurable water quality standards. They also said that there is need for a more effective and tougher public oversight,” said Larry Ginter, a member of the group.

He said” that’s the bottom-line and there is no amount of corporate PR which will change these very basic facts.”

The farm groups appointed Sean McMahon as the executive director of the group.

The alliance is tasked to sensitize farmers about the best nutrient reduction strategy which should be adopted in Iowa. It will also ensure that these practices are fully adopted. The alliance will also work with the Iowa State University and other partners to come up with superior environmental metrics and attract funding from both public and private sectors.

Leeds, a policy analyst said that the program is expected to attract tens of millions of dollars in funding to support water quality and conservation. It will also aim at improving research and other quality improvement-metrics.

The alliance will seek to partner with larger organizations in the agricultural sector and food corporations, private foundations and government institutions to help accelerate water quality issues in the state of Iowa.

“This is not another campaign which seeks to show how important farming is. Residents of Iowa comprehend that agriculture is important,” said Leeds. This is all about the best practices that are based on science and data which lead to environmental improvement.

Leeds reiterated that farmers are starting to adopt   conservation methods which will help improve water quality. “But we have to do more than what has already been done,” he said. He further said that if farmers are allowed to continue with what they are doing, there is some possibility that no improvement in water quality will be seen

“Farmers must become aware of the fact that the general public is watching and there is a growing concern about water quality in Iowa and the impact which agriculture might have on Iowa’s water quality,” said Leeds. Leeds will serve as the chairman to the board of the new alliance which will have its office at the   soybean association headquarters in Ankeny.

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