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ISA supports use of sales tax for water quality fundingISA supports use of sales tax for water quality funding

Iowa Soybean Association backs public plan to fund state water quality improvement efforts.

September 15, 2016

3 Min Read

Saying good intentions alone aren’t enough to generate adequate funding for statewide soil and water conservation work to improve and protect water quality—the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) earlier this week strongly reiterated its support for funding the state’s Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.


The farmer-led ISA renewed its call for a solutions-based approach to water quality funding during a news conference launching Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy Coalition on Sept. 12 in downtown Des Moines. Representatives of agriculture, conservation, recreation and business backing the coalition, including the ISA, urged legislators to increase the state sales tax by at least three-eighths of 1 cent to fund the trust.

Much more work needs to be done and at a quicker pace

The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreational Trust Fund has remained unfunded since its formation in 2010 when it garnered 63% of the general election vote. “Iowa soybean farmers are proud to stand in support of the long-term, dedicated funding that will enhance soil conservation, improve water quality, restore wildlife habitat and expand outdoor recreation,” said Kirk Leeds, CEO of ISA.

“While I’m proud of ISA’s leadership on improving environmental performance, we know there’s much more work to be done and at a quicker pace,” he added. “We must deploy more people into watersheds to work hand-in-hand with farmers and partners to install practices, collect data, analyze results and adjust and improve as we learn.”

Leeds said Iowans’ overwhelming support of the fund “is reflective of the interest and understanding they have in what it takes to significantly and positively impact the quality of our natural resources today and for future generations.”

Similar funding mechanism exists in Missouri and Minnesota

Iowa soybean farmers have demonstrated their commitment to making real progress in soil and water conservation, says ISA president Rolland Schnell, who farms in Jasper County. This work will be emboldened by legislative approval of an increase in the state’s sales tax.

The farmer from Newton said ISA has lent its support to other pragmatic solutions to benefit greater adoption of conservation practices while investing time and resources in watersheds to improve nutrient management. “Farmers and landowners have and will continue to make investments that improve conservation, including cover crops, saturated buffers and bioreactors,” Schnell said. “But funding that would be stimulated by the trust fund, estimated at more than $180 million annually, would spur much-needed economies of scale.”

It’s time to make good on funding priority in 2017 Legislature

The time is now, he added, to make agricultural systems more resilient by maintaining agriculture’s productivity year-in and year-out despite extreme weather events. “Using cover crops and no-till and strip till helps our soil be less erosive,” Schnell said. “Many farmers have experienced erosive events due to heavy rainfall that often occurs when our soils are most vulnerable. Less tillage and increased use of cover crops is an effective one-two approach.”

Just like their urban neighbors, Schnell said farmers are mindful about the importance and quality of the state’s natural resources that soon will be inherited by the next generation. “Taking care of our environmental resources now ensures that our farms and Iowa will be strong in the future,” he said. “This is fundamental to stewardship and it is a shared investment. That’s why Iowans supported establishing the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreational Trust Fund. It’s now time to make good on this funding priority in the upcoming 2017 Iowa legislative session.”

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