Secretary Naig Highlights State-Led Conservation Efforts during Today’s Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force Meeting

DES MOINES, Iowa (Oct. 1, 2020) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig highlighted a few of the state’s ongoing water quality improvement projects during today’s Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force virtual meeting. Secretary Naig serves as the co-chair of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force and is a strong advocate for state-led efforts to scale up conservation projects in priority watersheds throughout the Mississippi River Basin.

A copy of Secretary Naig’s welcome remarks can be found below.

“Good morning. Thank you all for virtually joining us for the fall Hypoxia Task Force meeting. I’m grateful that the Hypoxia Task Force gives state and federal agencies opportunities, like this, to share our water quality success stories and lessons learned.

This morning, you will hear from states giving updates on their progress and unique approaches to implementing their Nutrient Reduction Strategies. There is a tremendous amount of conservation work happening across the Mississippi River basin. I am proud of all those who are out there on the ground, face-to-face, doing the actual work that moves the needle. And I think it is especially worth noting that this work continues across the basin even during the unprecedented impact of the pandemic.

We can’t do it alone. Our public-private partnerships are key to scaling-up our state’s conservation efforts. New funding is allowing us to ramp up investments in wetlands and other practices.

In Iowa, we’re continuing to make progress on the goals outlined in our Nutrient Reduction Strategy despite the pandemic, widespread drought conditions and a devastating derecho that damaged more than 6 million acres of crops.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is working alongside 12 industry groups and one of our media partners to highlight some of our conservation projects through the “Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here” campaign.

We kicked off the Clean Water campaign in mid-August and, each week, we visit a different conservation site telling stories about projects and promoting conservation.

In August, Secretary Perdue came to Iowa to tour the drought and derecho damage and we took him to a stop on the Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here tour to see a 55-acre wetland in north-central Iowa.

I mention this because this wetland is a great example of private investments matching public dollars to help cover the planning, engineering and construction costs of these land-based conservation practices.

A portion of the project was funded through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). I’m grateful to the USDA, EPA and other federal partners for their continued financial support.

These funds are matched by private corporate donations from Ducks Unlimited, Nestle Purina and Pheasants Forever. Over its lifetime, the wetland will remove more than 1,744 tons of nitrogen in the watershed and provide a habitat for wildlife. Projects like this help farmers maintain operational productivity while minimizing the environmental impact.

We’re also excited about the Iowa Systems Approach to Conservation Drainage (ISACD) project. This is a five-year, $10 million demonstration project funded by NRCS through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is co-leading the project and working alongside 15 partners to demonstrate the connection between in-field practices that improve agronomic, soil health and nutrient use efficiency, and edge-of-field practices that further improve water quality.

This project will showcase the value and efficiency of integrating crop production methods with proven conservation practices to minimize project development costs and maximize soil health and water quality benefits. When it is complete, the project is expected to reduce nitrogen losses by 1.185 million pounds per year and phosphorous losses by 40,000 pounds per year.

These are just two of many conservation projects underway across the state.

I know this has been a tough year financially and emotionally for farmers — and all of us. Yet we’re still asking farmers and landowners to invest in conservation practices. Many farmers view practices as an investment in the future of agriculture. Today’s farmers and landowners are paying it forward to protect their family’s farming legacy so their children and grandchildren can continue productively farming our land. We know there’s still work to do but I wholeheartedly believe we are on the right track.

My goal here in Iowa, and my hope for the Task Force, is to seek out solutions that strike the right balance between improving water quality, maintaining productive food and transportation systems, and empowering people to enjoy economic prosperity up and downstream.

Finally, I want to thank you all for joining this virtual meeting. Water quality is a challenging and complex issue, and there are opportunities for everyone to get involved in the process. Thank you for joining us on this journey.”

 

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.

Media Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov