Enhancing Iowa’s water and soil quality requires increased funding

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor,

     Iowa has some of the richest soil and the potential for clean waterways in the world. According to the Izaak Walton League, over 85 percent of Iowa’s land is in agriculture. Iowa’s landscape has been altered immensely to provide food and other materials to support our economy. The Iowa Izaak Walton League reports from their monitoring that Iowa’s waterways have become increasingly challenged in the last five years with higher nitrate levels, fecal material, and fertilizer runoff. The consequences of the declining water quality are fish kills, algae blooms, and declining quality of water for human consumption (Izaak Walton League study). We have an opportunity to reduce some of the impact from our commercial agricultural practices and return soils and waterways closer to natural quality.

     Some of the promising practices include: grass buffer strips, especially in areas where the land is more susceptible to significant runoff of chemicals and soil. Some farmers are planting grass cover crops after harvesting row crops. These are clearly some practices which will increase the water quality and promote soil retention. The Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman (Jan. 12, 2022) suggests enhanced long-term funding to SF 512, which will promote financial incentives to increase the acreage of cover crops and buffer zones.

     The Iowa General Assembly has an opportunity with robust state revenues and carryover revenue to financially support farmers to increase the use of cover crops and buffer zones. These practices will support the return to Iowa’s high quality natural resources: water and soil. The Governor’s proposed budget for agriculture is $37.6 billion, which the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s request is $42.9 billion. If conservation efforts are to expand, additional funding needs to be provided to specifically support cover crops and buffer zones.

     Please attend the precinct caucus of your choice on Feb. 7, to speak up for increased state funding to improve water and soil quality.


Keith Stamp

Monticello, Iowa


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