Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey requested $7.5 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in a public meeting with Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds yesterday as part of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 budget requests.

Northey’s request puts funding at the level of support sought for the soil conservation cost share program, or Iowa Financial Incentives Program, over the next two years.

“The strong support from the governor, lt. governor and Legislature for the Water Quality Initiative has been critically important to the exciting progress we have made,” said Northey. “This request is designed to allow us to continue to build on the initiative. Funding water quality and soil conservation efforts at equal levels will allow us to continue the exciting work taking place in both of these critically important programs.”

The department received $4.4 million for the current fiscal year for the Water Quality Initiative. The $7.5 million per year requested would allow the department to continue offering cost share statewide to farmers trying new water quality practices, expand work in targeted watersheds to achieve measurable water quality improvements, and develop new programs to help engage all Iowans in water quality efforts.

Northey also requested $7.5 million for conservation cost share for each of the next two fiscal years. For more than four decades, Iowa’s soil conservation cost share program has encouraged the adoption of conservation structures and practices to protect and preserve our state’s natural resources. Last year alone, the state’s $9.5 million investment generated $13 million in matching funds from Iowa farmers and land owners to support conservation practices.

In the meeting with Branstad, Northey also requested $1.92 million in both fiscal 2016 and 2017 to support the closure of 17 additional agriculture drainage wells in the state.

“I appreciate the opportunity to outline this proposal for the governor and lt. governor and I look forward to working with them and the Legislature to keep Iowa’s conservation efforts moving forward,” Northey said.