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Iowa has long led the nation in agricultural production. With rich soils and an ideal climate for agriculture, though, comes great responsibility. To protect healthy soils and achieve better water quality, and to ensure we are passing down healthy and sustainable land to the next generations, conservation must be a priority in agricultural policy.
Iowa farmers can utilize state cost-share and loan programs designated for promoting sustainable agriculture. These funding methods help farmers implement conservation practices on their land.
But with limited resources to provide incentive, voluntary conservation practices aren’t at full strength. Cover crops, for example, were planted on 760,000 acres in 2017, a far cry from the 12 million acres needed as identified by the Nutrient Reduction Strategy. With nearly 70% of Iowa land in crop production, supporting farmers and landowners in private land protection with adequate funding is necessary to protect Iowa’s land, water and wildlife.
Iowa landowners can also use the Iowa Charitable Conservation Contribution Tax Credit to protect their land, which provides tax incentives for permanently protecting agricultural and natural land. The tax credit has helped hundreds of landowners implement sustainable land use practices and ensure the long-term health of their land.
As we continue to rely on voluntary conservation practices to improve Iowa’s water quality, we need to provide substantial and dependable funding to farmers and landowners for conservation structure and more fully fund the Nutrient Reduction Strategy so that it may meet its goals.