Farmers Snap-Up Cost Share Money For Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Farmers Snap-Up Cost Share Money For Nutrient Reduction Strategy

Demand is overwhelming for Department of Agriculture funding to help get voluntary water quality practices on the land.

It didn't take long for Iowa farmers to submit applications to use up all of the $2.8 million in cost share funding made available in August to implement nutrient reduction practices on farms to help protect water quality. The state funding is offered as an incentive for farmers to try cover crops and other conservation practices to get the statewide voluntary Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy started this fall.

NEW FUNDING GOES FAST: Iowa Department of Agriculture made $2.8 million available in August for special state cost-share funding for water quality practices this fall. It's a new program to provide incentive to get the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy started. It didn't take long for farmers to sign up for the entire $2.8 million. Since it is 50-50 cost share, that means farmers are also committing $2.8 million of their own money to try the new practices recommended in the voluntary conservation program.

The initial $1.8 million in cost-share funding was made available August 8 by the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship. Reacting to a strong wave of interest by farmers who signed up, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey on August 22 made another $1 million available. Less than a week later farmers had submitted applications for the entire $2.8 million.

The special incentive offers $25 per acre to farmers who plant cover crops this fall, $10 per acre to those who adopt no-till or strip-till programs and $3 per acre to those who use nitrification inhibitors on fall-applied nitrogen fertilizer. The practices are designed to help reduce nutrient loss from fields and are options for farmers to use in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The funds cannot be used for more than 50% of the total cost of the practice, so farmers will provide the other 50%. Thus, farmers are providing at least another $2.8 million of their own money to support these practices.

Farmers are also committing over $2.8 million of their own money for voluntary water practices, as they must match the $2.8 million in cost-share funding

IDALS received applications covering 120,680 acres from 1,096 different farmers seeking to participate in the program. That includes 109,415 acres of cover crops, 7,321 acres of nitrification inhibitor, 2,675 acres of no-till and 1,268 acres of strip till. Farmers in 97 of the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state received funding.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~

"Iowa farmers are very conservation minded. The tremendous response to this program shows again that they will respond voluntarily when presented with science-based solutions to conservation challenges," Northey says. "It is exciting that nearly 1,100 farmers are willing to put their own money towards trying new practices aimed at protecting water quality and improving soil health."

Farmers encouraged to contact local Soil and Water Conservation District office to see if other programs are available to help them implement voluntary practices

Only farmers not already using the practice were eligible to apply for assistance and the cost-share was only available on up to 160 acres.

IDALS received $3 million from the 2013 Iowa Legislature in one-time funding to support statewide water quality practices over the next five years and has now committed $2.8 million to support these science-based practices this fall. Farmers are encouraged to still reach out to their local conservation district office as there may be other programs available to help them implement voluntary, science-based water quality practices on their farm. "This has been a great kick-off to our water quality initiative and we look forward to continuing to work with farmers to put more practices on the ground to better protect water quality here in Iowa and downstream as well," says Northey.

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