Branstad, Reynolds get up close with conservation

MELBOURNE – Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds made a stop in Melbourne Tuesday to see farm conservation practices first hand.

The Iowa Land Improvement Contractors Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship hosted the pair and other state legislators for a field day in Melbourne to educate them on conservation.

The main focus was nutrient reduction methods, since state ag leaders are pushing legislators for more funding for the effort. This move is also coming down from the Environmental Protection Agency, which is looking for the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus in water, especially from states along the Mississippi River.

“Iowa has a goal of 45 percent reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus in our water,” said Ben Gleason, sustainable program manager with the ICGA.

Branstad recognized the impact nutrient reduction work has on the environment.

“It’s important that we all work together on the nutrient reduction strategy,” Branstad said.

Reynolds also realized the importance of being able to see these practices in action.

“It makes it that much easier to support it,” she said.

Rep. Dean Fisher, R-Garwin, is a farmer and supports the funding for reduced nutrient programs. He also saw the importance of a field day for lawmakers.

“Nutrient management strategy is a big deal for Iowa to keep the EPA off our backs,” Fisher said. “The field day is essential so we understand what’s going on so we are making smart legislation.”

The field day location was on the LICA farm, which shows a wide array of conservation practices including wetlands, terraces and grassed waterways.

“It shows a wide variety of practices to control erosion and reduce nutrients,” Gleason said.

The event organizers planned for more farmers in attendance, but the stretch of dry weather had them in the fields Tuesday.

“I think we have a good window here,” Gleason said. “They’ll get a lot planted.”