Agriculture drives city's economy

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By Roger Wolf


Today, erratic and extreme water events have been the norm rather than the exception for Iowans. Water wasn’t kind to Iowa, with memorable flooding in 1993, 2008, 2010 and 2011 impacting upstream and downstream communities.

In 2012, historic widespread drought across Iowa had us hoping wells wouldn’t be dry or wondering if farmers would harvest a crop. This year, a shift again, with Iowa April precipitation the most recorded in 141 years.

At the Iowa Soybean Association, we work to expand opportunities and deliver results and outcomes that improve the quality of life for members, their customers and communities they work and live in. We create and implement strategic and innovative programs in the areas of renewable fuels, environmental stewardship, production and research, international marketing, agricultural awareness, transportation and soy foods.

In 2000, we initiated environmental programs and services seeking to advance productivity, profitability and environmental quality. Today, our programs model cooperative upstream and downstream partnerships and apply leadership to achieve goals. Financial support for these efforts comes from the Soybean Checkoff, grants and contracts, taxpayers and landowners.

In 2012, we began partnering with a number of organizations to improve water quality and enhance flood mitigation efforts in the Upper Cedar River Watershed. This includes long-term watershed plan development, nutrient management planning with area farmers, soil and nutrient loss risk analysis, hydrology assessments, conservation practice demonstrations, stream assessments, and wildlife habitat planning. We are partnering with Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Bremer, Chickasaw, Floyd, and Mitchell counties, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Iowa Flood Center and the Walton Family Foundation. These efforts are being coordinated with watershed improvement efforts organized by the Upper Cedar River Watershed Management Authority.

We are optimistic about the work that has been started. Among our recommendations for the future:

l Continuing to foster integrated watershed management approaches at all levels.

l Advance site-specific initiatives using locally collected data to guide implementation.

l Create and support research and monitoring means incorporating outcome data as feedback for adjusting implementation strategies and tactics.

l Advance intergovernmental cooperation and public-private partnerships tailored to local and regional needs.

These issues require cooperation and teamwork. We believe it is in the best interest of farmers and all Eastern Iowans, particularly Cedar Rapids residents, to work together.

Agriculture in many ways drives the city’s economy, with the likes of Quaker Oats, Penford and Archer Daniels Midland being major employers. Farmers rely on those grain buyers, and working together we can make a difference.

Roger Wolf is director of Environmental Programs and Services at the Iowa Soybean Association. Comments;

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