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News Brief

Aug. 11, 2017

Iowa farmers embrace conservation effort

These are challenging times for Iowa farmers who are battling a global grain glut and high production costs. But that isn't stopping them from embracing a longterm conservation initiative. A record number of farmers have signed up for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, by planting cover crops or taking other steps to keep nutrients in the soil and improve water quality. Dustin Vande Hoef with the Iowa Department of Agriculture says it may not seem to make sense for farmers to put money into such a program with the farm economy in a downturn, but it's important to consider.

The State of Iowa chipped in $4.8 million in cost-sharing funds for the conservation program, while farmers invested $8.7 million. In the past four years, more than 4,800 farms have participated in the initiative, and more than 2,600 are taking part this year. Vande Hoef says that amounts to a lot of Iowa farmland.

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013. It brings together wastewater treatment officials, farmers and industrial organizations to address issues that include rural and urban stormwater runoff.