The president of Iowa's largest grassroots farm organization kicked off the 2013 Summer Policy Conference last week in Des Moines with a call on all farmers to do their part to protect the land and water.
President Craig Hill, a crop and livestock farmer from Milo in south-central Iowa, opened the Iowa Farm Bureau 2013 Summer Policy Conference, praising progress and calling all farmers to heed the call to conservation. "Farmer to farmer, let's look at one another as stewards of the land, and take a long, hard look at how we care for two of our most precious resources: soil and water. It has never been more important than today to have this dialog with each other about conservation. We must go beyond talking, to doing what is right for your farm and for all of Iowa's natural resources," he said.
Not participating in Iowa's nutrient reduction effort is not an option; all farmers need to take steps and do more to conserve soil and protect water quality
Hill also touted the new statewide Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the progress farmers have already made in preserving the soil and water in the state's watersheds. "Since the Nutrient Reduction Strategy was developed by many stakeholders and funded by the legislature, Iowa Farm Bureau has been leading the charge to encourage farmers to do one more thing. Just since the funding was announced recently, 1,096 farmers in 97 of the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Iowa have applied to participate in the newly funded cost share program. Farmers have submitted applications for more than 120,000 acres of new conservation practices. This is great news! But we know that more needs to be done," said Hill.
The 2013 Summer Policy Conference was a two-day event August 27-28 at IFBF headquarters in West Des Moines. Delegates from 100 county Farm Bureaus debated and finalized policies for 2014.
Conservation, infrastructure and regulations drove most of the discussion at this year's conference
Iowa Farm Bureau voting delegates shared concerns about infrastructure problems, regulatory implications, and watershed management as they gathered to set state and national legislative policy. Water and soil conservation and country of origin labeling also topped their discussions.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
"Our voting delegates discussed these priority issues and planned our course of action for 2014," says Hill. Iowa's largest farm organization called for Watershed Management efforts to be established with balanced urban and agricultural representation from within that watershed, as members showed enthusiasm for conservation and improving Iowa's soil and waterways. "Our Farm Bureau members are considering what they can do to make a difference on their farms and be visibly seen as leading the way towards progress in water quality," Hill says. "After all, the overall goals of farmers and non-farmers have always been the same: to keep our soils strong and our water safe, and this is just one more way to assure progress in the field continues."
Where to get the funding needed to repair and upgrade Iowa's deteriorating roads and bridges is a continuing topic
Transportation infrastructure funding also found consensus among IFBF farmers. Iowa's roads and bridges need to be repaired and replaced when they become worn and deteriorated. "It's a continuous effort to fund road infrastructure to facilitate the economic sustainability and growth for our state," says Hill. "This isn't just an agricultural issue; this is an issue that affects all Iowans."
Another lively discussion at the IFBF Summer Policy Conference concerned the national issue of country of origin labeling or COOL for meat and related food products. "Trade compliance is very important to us, and we want to be a good trading partner," says Hill. "Iowa Farm Bureau members discussed this issue at the conference and concluded that a mandatory COOL for meat harms open trade between the U.S. and our neighbors, and our IFBF members prefer a voluntary meat labeling program."
The IFBF Summer Policy Conference is a step in Farm Bureau's grassroots policy development process, which begins in the spring at the county level. The national policies will now be subject to debate during American Farm Bureau Federation policy discussions which will be held in January 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.