In recent conversations with Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey, the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) has loomed large. Northey is asking Iowa growers to take a voluntary step toward reducing the flow of N and P into the watershed. To help the effort along, the Secretary had included $2.4 million in funding in his annual budget request from the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Word came from Des Moines yesterday that the appropriations committee approved the $2.4 million for fiscal 2014 and included $10 million in one time funds to jump-start the project.
At a local implement in Iowa, Secretary Northey said of NRS, "Its not free, its not going to be easy and there's some work that needs to happen but if we do this right, we will get this momentum going before the regulators figure out that they want to regulate everything." Northey also requested $4.4 million to be budgeted for NRS for the following year.
Northey reports a great response from growers thus far and with the kind of top-down support that this budget approval suggests, the movement toward nutrient reduction has a lot of traction both from legislators and farmers. Success on that level will help advance reduction strategies across the Corn Belt, and encourage other states' appropriations committees to include funding for their own efforts.
"That [funding] would include one staff person that would coordinate our work but also coordinate with a lot of other folks that are doing things. USDA, Nature Conservancy, Soybean Association...there are lots of local water quality projects going and we need to coordinate those pieces," Northey said.
This level of support from the Iowa Appropriations Committee signals Northey's approach makes sense to legislators, and that with continued voluntary efforts will allow growers to work out their own methods of lowering the flow of N and P to the watershed without EPA regulations.