Throughout the decades, Iowa Farm Bureau has taken on the challenge of improving water quality — finding new and improved ways to reduce soil loss, fostering programs to develop conservation structures, advocating for conservation funding, funding research and developing partnerships to enhance watersheds.
Iowa Farm Bureau has led by promoting and harnessing the strong conservation and natural resource stewardship ethic that is naturally prevalent across Iowa’s generational farms, said Dean Lemke, a veteran of Iowa conservation work for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and other state agencies.
“Farm Bureau has been front and center in leading the efforts for conservation funding in a very genuine way,” Lemke said. “That’s because the organization does such a good job of representing the values of its grassroots membership, the farm families who are active environmentalists.”
As we begin our second century, Farm Bureau remains dedicated to helping farmers build on their conservation legacy by further reducing erosion to save Iowa’s precious soil, improving the quality of our state’s water and reducing farmers’ overall environmental footprint.
The organization is a strong supporter of the state’s water quality initiative, which is focused on implementing the practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Farm Bureau was there at the beginning, helping to lead development of the strategy and has since worked hard to build participation, says John Lawrence, vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
“Farm Bureau was a key partner in developing the strategy, but also communicating about the strategy and the need for it,” he said.
Farm Bureau also led the effort to secure long-term, dedicated funding to support farmers’ efforts to improve water quality. That funding was signed into law in early 2018 by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, the first piece of legislation she signed as Governor.
Farm Bureau has also helped farmers’ conservation and water quality efforts through partnerships at the local level. A good example is the Hewitt Creek project in northeast Iowa, a farmer-led effort that has significantly reduced nutrients in the creek, improved water quality and brought back fish and wildlife.
“Without Farm Bureau’s financial support, the Hewitt Creek project wouldn’t have happened,” said Jeff Pape, leader of the project.
For more information about farmers conservation efforts, visit ConservationCountsIowa.com.