Farmers must be paid to stop polluting, reader says


To the editor:

Francis Thicke and friends are correct in their July 24 letter to the Des Moines Register. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy might work if fully implemented across the state, but federal and state policy favors private interests such as fertilizer suppliers, grain dealers, the ethanol lobby and meat packers by way subsidies, tax breaks and lax pollution control.

Farmers are caught in the middle. The Federal Farm Bill, input costs and the grain market are beyond their control. As the authors suggest, farmers cannot afford to lose income in bad years and are not going to pass up “good money” when corn commodity prices are higher.

Iowans will have to pay farmers if they want to get reductions in nitrate, phosphorus, soil loss and bacteria in our rivers, reservoirs and lakes.

The $2.2 billion that Secretary Vilsack wrote about did not make water quality better but without that money, matters would have been worse.

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy makes sense but is flawed as a totally voluntary program. There is no evidence that it is working beyond the edge-of-field level. The rivers and lakes are getting worse, not better. Iowa farmers are going to have to be paid to do what is necessary to improve our waters.

Iowans have already endorsed the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Trust Fund. The Iowa DNR and IDALS could use about $100 million of the Trust Fund money to improve conservation practices. A billion dollars over 10 years, used to leverage federal money and other funds, could help support our wildlife and reduce our water pollution and flooding.

The public needs to pay attention to what their legislators are doing to support conservation. So, readers, tell your legislators to support the Outdoor Trust Fund. Just as in other states, Iowans must make the investment to have better outdoor recreation and a healthier ecosystem.

Mike Delaney, Citizens for a Healthy Iowa


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