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Dealing with Iowa’s Nutrient Runoff

Iowa Row Crops

In May 2010, I first posted on Blog for Iowa about Iowa’s nutrient runoff and its effect on the Gulf of Mexico, where it creates hypoxia zones. It is a serious problem, grounded in reality, and Governor Branstad, along with a number of state agencies, is proposing a voluntary action plan to address nutrient flow from point and non-point sources into our rivers and streams, and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico. On Monday, the governor’s office released the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy for public comment. Find the press release here.

As someone concerned with the quality of Iowa’s waterways and the well being of our oceans, I urge readers to take this initiative seriously. There has been public discussion of the fact that parts of the plan were lifted directly from the Iowa Farm Bureau’s policy book. Did we seriously expect the Farm Bureau to be absent from a discussion that involves Iowa agriculture policy development in a Branstad-Reynolds administration? The cynics among us are sure to find reasons to refrain from action.

It is not a perfect plan and it may not be a viable plan. It is the plan we have and my advice is that because nutrient runoff is having dire consequences for our oceans, our best course of action is to get over it and participate in the process for public comments.

The concern about the Farm Bureau’s involvement is whether doing what is right should be a matter of law with obligatory compliance or of common sense and voluntary compliance. The Farm Bureau favors voluntary compliance, but what matters more is the fact that doing nothing about nutrient runoff is unacceptable.

Here is the link to the Nutrient Reduction Strategy home page. I hope readers will watch the video, read the materials, and take time to comment between now and Jan. 4, 2013. If the Branstad-Reynolds administration does not heed the public comments and do something to mitigate nutrient runoff, there will be an election in 2014 to find someone who can.

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