IPPA and IDALS announce funding for water quality
ALBERT CITY — Iowa Pork Producers Association President Gregg Hora and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig have announced their continued partnership in funding for pig farmers interested in the new nutrient loss reduction technologies.
The announcement was made in Albert City last week at a workshop that focused on the current status and conservation efforts of the Headwaters of the North Raccoon Cedar Creek.
IPPA has provided $25,000 to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to be used for various projects over the next year. These funds, according to the IPPA, will help offset up to 50 percent of the costs for pig farmers to install saturated buffers or bioreactors on their farmland.
“If you are a pig farmer, there are some cost share monies you can look directly at with the Iowa Pork Producers, so think about that if you are thinking about making some of these improvements,” said Hora.
Preference will be given to sites that provide the greatest opportunity for nitrate reduction and be geographically dispersed throughout the state to aid in education and demonstration opportunities.
“I want to thank you, as farmers, for working with these programs,” said Hora. “We know sustainability is just now a word that we have to live by. Because the new word is going to be on sustainability with cropland improvements for crop production, we want to produce in a responsible manner. Those nutrients we put on, we have bought and paid for and we want to be able to utilize them.”
“We are not just sustaining, but doing better for the future.”
He added there is a multitude of partnerships that help to make these conservation efforts possible.
“We have a lot of coalitions — with IDALS, DNR, ISU, with private consultants and consulting firms for livestock producers on their manure management plans, NRCS, watershed programs and various others. People we are working with trying to make things better in the future than maybe what they are today,” said Hora. “We are pleased to continue this successful partnership with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.”
“While these are not specific practices to livestock, we know public/private partnerships such as this continue to drive momentum of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” he added. “Efforts from the 2017, and now 2018 funding, will allow enhanced demonstration of these projects across the state while continuing to move the needle on water quality improvements.”
The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy science assessment cites an average 4 percent reduction in nitrate loss and up to 46 percent reduction in phosphorus loss when using swine manure as a nutrient source compared to commercial fertilizer.
According to the IPPA, this also has positive impacts on soil organic carbon, soil structure and runoff.
Research from the University of Arkansas shows that efficiencies of modern pork production enable farmers to reduce water use 41 percent, land use 78 percent and carbon footprint 35 percent from 1959-2009.
Naig, who has been the state’s agriculture secretary for almost a month, said he was thrilled to be a part of the announcement with the pork producers and especially to be able to make the announcement in the location of one such as The Headwaters of the North Raccoon Cedar Creek.
“There are over 25 partners in this Headwaters project, with an award-winning watershed manager, Lee Gravel,” he said. “We are proud of the work you are all doing up here. This area is recognized as leading in the state of Iowa. This project, the Headwaters, is very much out in front on what is going on across the state. We have some great projects out there, so that is saying something.”
Although there has been an increase in conservation efforts, Naig said there is still a lot more that needs to be done throughout the state of Iowa.
“We need to scale up,” he said. “We need to do a lot of work. We need a lot of bioreactors, we need a lot of saturated buffers, we need wetlands, we need a lot of acres in cover crops. We’re attracting private sector dollars to get the work done. Because the state can’t do it alone, you shouldn’t want us to. The federal government can’t do it and you shouldn’t want them to either, so it is a partnership.”
Naig said the $25,000 the IPPA is providing is getting put right to work.
“We are going to leverage those dollars to get practices done,” he said. “Here’s what we are committed to: whether you go into that USDA county office, or call down to Des Moines to talk to somebody, that anybody, any one of those entities, should be able to help you navigate through all of these different sources of funding and get stuff done. And that’s what we are trying to do, is get work done.”
Recently, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new water quality bill into law.
“We had a pretty significant event, a legislative victory earlier this session with the governor,” Naig said. “The first bill she signed as governor was a bill moving us forward on water quality. We now have dedicated, predictable water quality funding for over the next 12 years.”
However, he emphasized that victory doesn’t mean this is the last conversation there is going to be regarding the water quality issue in the state of Iowa.
“It allows us to take the next step and build on some of the great work that’s already been done in projects like the Headwaters,” he said. “Now we will expand. We will go from demonstrating to implementing more practices.”
The Nutrient Reduction Strategy, Naig said, was finalized five years ago and it is the momentum from that action, across the state, that led to the new legislation.
“If we hadn’t seen the success and activity across the state like we have the last five years, our legislature would not have approved and our governor would not have signed that bill into law, so it is a testament to the work that is going on,” he said.
He also recognized former Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey for his past leadership.
“Northey was a very strong leader on water quality over the years during his time in office as secretary,” he said. “And now, in Washington D.C., he has become an undersecretary in charge of all farmer agencies and I couldn’t think of a better person to be in charge and be responsible for those issues. We are thrilled that somebody that comes from Iowa, who comes from his background, and who is very familiar with what we are trying to do out here, is now in a federal position in authority of all of those programs.”
“That is good news for us as Iowans and good news for the country,” Naig added. “I am very proud of Bill being there and anxious to see what he can accomplish with his team in D.C.”