Two years ago several Iowa-based agricultural groups launched the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA). Today during the 2016 Farm Progress Show, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced the organization’s new Conservation Infrastructure Strategy to assist in the identification of economic development opportunities associated with achieving the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The IAWA also announced the formation of a new IAWA Business Council that will be co-chaired by Northey and Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning, Iowa and past-president of the American Soybean Association.
“Many of the ag businesses located in Iowa and doing business here are already leading the way in integrating water quality efforts into their business and bringing new tools to farmers to help them keep nutrients on their farm,” said Northey during a press conference launching the new initiative. “This new effort is focused on seeing if there are opportunities to support additional business development as we continue to scale-up efforts to improve water quality and maintain the tremendous productivity of Iowa agriculture.”
As part of the effort, the Business Council will identify current gaps in conservation/business infrastructure as well as develop an action plan focused on accelerated implementation of conservation practices focused on water quality. The action plan will focus on identifying economic drivers and market-based solutions to improving water quality and quantifying both the public and private benefits associated with successful implementation of water quality practices.
“Preserving and enhancing Iowa’s resources benefits everyone,” Gaesser noted in his remarks. “This is really figuring out the additional expertise and finance needed to help farmers continue improving water quality while meeting the global needs of feeding people. Adapting requires continual research, inspiration, education and action. There’s opportunity in that for farmers and the business community.”
IAWA Executive Director Sean McMahon said that the IAWA Business Council, will play a key role in helping to shape the conservation infrastructure strategy along with the existing IAWA Advisory Council. “We look forward to partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and our many other highly valued partners to help align public and private efforts and identify business opportunities to improve Iowa’s water quality and strengthen rural communities.”
Listen to the press conference here: IAWA Launches Conservation Strategy Presser