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Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy-Redux

Iowa Row Crops

In a letter to the editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, my friend Lynn Gallagher spoke to how I felt about the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy referenced in my Nov. 20 post. Here is her letter:

“Does anyone really believe that voluntary compliance will protect our water (or land or air)?

Did you read the Nov. 16 story in the Des Moines Register titled Farm Bureau text in state report,

DNR staffers say they had no input on draft of plan to cut ag runoff?’

I am outraged! Aren’t you?

The fact is that not all farmers are stewards of the land.

We would like to believe that people can be trusted to “do the right thing.” Think about how well that worked with Wall Street. We need to protect the commons.

If the state of Iowa cannot enact and enforce regulations to protect the environment, then I welcome the Environmental Protection Agency to come in and do so.

Please consider contacting your legislators and the governor. This is unacceptable!”

Well written, Lynn.

Elections have consequences. When Terry Branstad won the 2010 general election with 52.3 percent of the vote, one of those consequences was expected to be the avoidance, repeal and reduction of regulations related to business generally, and agriculture in particular. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy of voluntary compliance is another variation on this theme. Different from the perceived problem of excess government regulation, hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico is real, a problem that will not go away without action.

If the governor’s plan of voluntary actions works, hats off to him. But as Gallagher’s letter suggests, not every point and non-point source polluter will voluntarily comply.

If the plans of Iowa and other Mississippi River basin states don’t abate nutrient runoff sufficiently to reverse Gulf of Mexico hypoxia, the federal government is expected step in again. States won’t like it.

While I would have liked to have seen Iowa put sensible regulations in place, Governor Branstad had other ideas, and for now, it is his show. Be assured that the same people who supported the election of Terry Branstad will be supporting him with comments to his plan to reduce nutrient runoff.

It is important that every voice be heard. I urge readers to go to the website, watch the video, read the documents and enter your comments. The fight for what is right does not end with any election, especially if our candidates lose.

We could do nothing, work on the next election and wait for the mythical day when the planets align and all of our candidates are concurrently serving in office. For me, the work is too important to wait for that.

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