Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) members are pleased that the Iowa Supreme Court is upholding a century of precedent and established Iowa law by rejecting those aspects of the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit against drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties, which were referred to the court.
“The lawsuit has done nothing to improve water quality and has impeded that conservation progress. Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality, but the challenge is bigger than farmers. That’s why farmers partnered, prior to the lawsuit, in key areas of the state to improve water quality. That work will and must continue. The best solution moving forward is to embrace collaborative efforts and practices designed and measured by ISU researchers which will sustain the land and water for all Iowans," says IFBF President Craig Hill.
The ruling today means northwest Iowa drainage districts, farmers and rural citizens will not be held liable for damages from rainfall and a number of other factors, which can impact their naturally fertile land. “With one in five jobs directly tied to agriculture, rural Iowa has much at stake with this lawsuit, which from the beginning, had the potential to impact not just every farmer in Iowa, but agriculture throughout the United States,” says Hill.
Progress in water quality is measurable; over the past 20 years, Iowa farmers have nearly doubled the acres of conservation tillage and Iowa leads the nation in areas devoted to grass filters and buffer strips, which help catch nutrients and protect rivers and streams from runoff. Last fall Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced that 1,800 Iowa farmers committed $3.8 million in cost share funds to install nutrient reduction practices and Iowa continues to see increases in the adoption of practices, such as cover crops and bioreactors.
IFBF hopes the Federal District Court will dismiss the remaining aspects of the case, and collaborative work to improve water quality and fund those continued efforts can be the unified focus of all Iowans, moving forward.