Last week Iowa Governor Terry Branstad released his proposed budgets for fiscal year 2014 and also for fiscal 2015. He sent his budget recommendations to the 2013 session of the Iowa Legislature. Fiscal year 2014 starts July 1, 2013 for state government departments and agencies in Iowa. Fiscal year 2015 begins July 1, 2014.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey released a statement thanking Branstad for including $2.4 million in fiscal 2014 and $4.4 million in fiscal 2015 for the state's new agriculture water quality initiative. These amounts are in Branstad's proposed budget he sent to the state legislature. A month ago, Northey met with Branstad and requested the funding to support implementation of the new Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Information about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy can be found at the Nutrient Reduction Strategy website.
Iowa governor is strong supporter of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
"Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds are strong supporters of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and I appreciate them including funding to move forward with getting this strategy started. This funding, if it is eventually approved and provided, will help put needed water-quality focused conservation practices in place. The funding request is for the budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. These funds, if approved by the legislature, will be used to educate farmers about the positive water quality impacts of a number of on-farm conservation practices and support the construction of these practices with cost share funding."
The ag department's proposal for the agriculture water quality initiative would provide $575,000 for marketing and outreach, along with $1,675,000 for water quality initiative cost-share funding and $150,000 for staffing in fiscal 2014.
This is a voluntary nutrient reduction plan, it isn't regulatory; it needs to provide conservation cost-share funds as financial incentive to get farmers to participate
The marketing and outreach funds would allow the ag department to strategically collaborate with farm groups, environmental groups, the Water Resources Coordinating Council or WRCC, the Watershed Planning Advisory Council or 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 educate farmers on conservation and nutrient management practices and encourage farmer participation in voluntary water quality initiatives.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
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 outlined in the strategy include proper nutrient application, conservation tillage, 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.
Iowa Soybean Association supports Branstad's call for water quality funding
The Iowa Soybean Association is pleased with the support Governor Branstad is offering the nation's first, voluntary nutrient reduction strategy plan. Branstad's proposal calls for $2.4 million in fiscal 2014 and $4.4 million in fiscal 2015 for the agriculture water quality initiative.
"This funding signals a positive step in moving this strategy into a workable plan for our farmers," says Roger Wolf, ISA director of environmental services. "We hope the Iowa Legislature agrees with the recommendations offered by the state department of agriculture. When it comes to financial support, we recognize there are many competing interests that need to be balanced and we're happy to see water quality on the list of priorities."
The funding will provide support for marketing, outreach and a water quality initiative cost share program that will be matched by farmers or land owners to implement targeted conservation practices ranging from conservation tillage to bio-reactors to cover crops. Mark Jackson, ISA president who farms near Rose Hill, looks forward to seeing the plan put into action. "Iowa soybean farmers have voiced their support for this strategy. The science for this plan is solid and we need to move forward now with support for funding from this Legislature," says Jackson. "This is a comprehensive plan that needs both the input and support of everyone involved in agriculture. The effort to improve water quality needs to be holistic and inclusive. This first step is encouraging."~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
The nutrient reduction plan's public comment period was open through Friday, January 18. For information or to read the report follow this link.
Branstad budget proposal also includes funding for bioeconomy research and AgriScope
In addition, Branstad's budget proposal included funding for bioeconomy research and an initiative supported by AgriScope. AgriScope is supported by AgSTATE, an association that includes the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University, several commodity groups and co-ops. The initiative is designed to support research and innovation to strengthen Iowa's agricultural production and value-added endeavors.
Iowa Corn Growers Association director of government affairs Mindy Larson Poldberg notes that the governor outlined a two-year budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. She says, "We are glad the governor's proposed budget includes Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey's full funding request for the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. In December, Northey requested an additional $2.4 million for FY 2014 and $4.4 million for FY 2015 for implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and voluntary water quality practices. Funding of $1 million per year was also included for the closure of ag drainage wells. Partial funding was also provided in the governor's budget as requested by state agriculture organizations, Iowa Corn Growers, funding which would support ag-related research at Iowa State University. ICGA supports funding for these areas as they are ICGA priorities for 2013."