Three Iowa groups were awarded $2.5 million last week to support water quality efforts through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Farmer to Farmer grant program. 

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received a $1 million grant for a demonstration project that will help build eight wetlands in the Raccoon River Watershed. 

“It’s through federally supported, locally led efforts that we will solve water quality challenges,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “This EPA grant allows us to test a new type of wetland that may be able to be used in more locations, which would allow us to make a greater impact on water quality in Iowa and downstream.”

Also, Practical Farmers of Iowa received $979,915 for its project to strengthen farmer networks to improve water quality and wildlife habitat through cover crops and small grains production. 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will use its $559,258 grant to advance water quality efforts in the Beaver Creek Watershed by connecting landowners with conservation experts and providing the necessary tools and resources to get nutrient management practices on the ground much quicker.

The EPA Farmer to Farmer grants will benefit people and ecosystems from the northern watersheds all the way to the Gulf of Mexico by improving water quality, habitat, resilience and peer-to-peer information ex­­change among farmers, said Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward Chu. 

“The Farmer to Farmer program generates ideas and action by targeting funds on local solutions where we can make the greatest difference," he said. "I’m pleased that this funding will go to educate and empower farmers to implement best practices in their operations to reduce nutrient loads and improve water quality in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, including the North Raccoon River and Beaver Creek watersheds."