Governor Terry Branstad has made some deep cuts to the Iowa state budget including cuts to funding for projects at all three of the state's major Universities. All told, the governor cut $144.5 million from the previously approved $6.5 billion spending plan.
Earlier this year, Branstad supported requested funding for Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy amounting to $2.4 million for fiscal 2013 and $4.4 million for the following year with funding to continue for the life of the project. These funds will be used to provide cost share funds for practices and structures known to improve water quality, education and outreach to farmers about the initiative and to hire a water quality coordinator for the Department.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today thanked Gov. Branstad and the Iowa Legislature for their strong support for a voluntary, science-based approach to improving water quality. Thanks to the work of the Governor and Legislature, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will receive an additional $22.4 million in fiscal 2014 to support conservation and water quality improvements in Iowa.
"The tremendous support from the Governor and legislators for the voluntary, science-based approach to improving water quality here in Iowa and downstream is very exciting," Northey said. "Farmers take great pride in caring for the air, soil and water, and these funds will provide vital assistance as they seek to do an even better job keeping nutrients on our land and out of our rivers, lakes and streams."
The Department of Ag will also receive an additional $7 million one-time appropriation that can be used over the next five years to help address the backlog of state soil conservation cost-share projects. Cost share receives an annual appropriation of $6.7 million, but the Department currently has applications for more than $20 million in assistance. All funds are matched by the landowner to support construction.
The legislature also approved $3 million to the Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) for voluntary watershed projects.
The Department again received $1.62 million this year to support the closure of agriculture drainage wells. This appropriation will allow the Department to finish closing 12 wells and bring the total number of closed wells to 262.
Additionally, the Legislature appropriated $1.5 million to start a nutrient management research center at Iowa State University that will conduct ongoing research on practices farmers can use to reduce nutrient losses.
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