Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey at the Farm Progress Show in Boone.
Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey at the Farm Progress Show in Boone.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) leadership announced Tuesday in Boone that they will be working with a broad cross-section of leaders within and outside of the agriculture industry to help identify potential economic development opportunities associated with achieving the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

“Many of the ag businesses located in Iowa and doing business here are already leading the way in integrating water quality efforts into their business and bringing new tools to farmers to help them keep nutrients on their farm,” said Northey. “This new effort is focused on seeing if there are opportunities to support additional business development as we continue to scale-up efforts to improve water quality and maintain the tremendous productivity of Iowa agriculture.”

As part of the effort, they will identify current gaps in conservation/business infrastructure and develop an action plan focused on accelerated implementation of conservation practices focused on water quality. The action plan will focus on identifying economic drivers and market-based solutions to improving water quality and quantifying both the public and private benefits associated with successful implementation of water quality practices.

Northey will serve as co-chair of the conservation infrastructure effort with Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning and past-president of the American Soybean Association.

“Preserving and enhancing Iowa’s resources benefits everyone,” Gaesser says. “This is really figuring out the additional expertise and finance needed to help farmers continue improving water quality while meeting the global needs of feeding people. Adapting requires continual research, inspiration, education and action. There’s opportunity in that for farmers and the business community.”

IAWA Executive Director Sean McMahon indicated that the IAWA Business Council, which also was launched yesterday, will play a key role in helping to shape the conservation infrastructure strategy along with the existing IAWA Advisory Council.

“We look forward to partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and our many other highly valued partners to help align public and private efforts and identify business opportunities to improve Iowa’s water quality and strengthen rural communities,” McMahon said.

Northey, Gaesser, McMahon and Dan Foor, CEO of La Crosse Seed and IAWA Business Council chair, made the announcement at the Farm Progress Show.