116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa's contribution to the national and world food supply is undeniable. Our farmers are the number one producers of corn, soybeans, hogs, and eggs in the Unites States. We rank second in farm net income and have the third highest number of farms in America. Iowa's agricultural sector provides the backbone of the state and regional economies.
Iowa farming is not just impacting the rural areas of our state, however. In Cedar Rapids, we bring in over 1 million bushels of corn each day for milling purposes, a huge economic impact and an advantage for manufacturers who can cut transportation costs by locating near essential inputs. This impact also means jobs and stable income for Cedar Rapids area residents. This is the case not just in Eastern Iowa, but all across the state.
While farmers are typically lauded for their contributions to the economy, recent legal action by the Des Moines Water Works threatens to damage the relationship between producers and city officials. The Des Moines Water Works is suing three Iowa counties for water purification expenses related to high nutrient levels in the Raccoon River.
All Iowans understand the importance of clean water, and most are working toward solutions to continually improve the water. However, the use of legal action is not the answer. There is a long-standing tradition of cooperation between farmers and policymakers in Iowa. It is in everyone's best interest to avoid losing nitrates to runoff and erosion. Thus, farmers have always embraced conservation efforts.
I am proud that Cedar Rapids has allied with stakeholders to provide a model approach for improving water quality. The Cedar Rapids water utility is partnering with farm-related agencies and organizations to invest more than $4 million to fund practices designed to reduce nutrient runoff in the Cedar River. By bringing together organizations, producers, and the utility, we acknowledge that we all have a role to play in making water quality a priority, and that we are all willing to roll up our sleeves and work hard.
While the severity of nutrient loss is not as high in Cedar Rapids as it is in Des Moines, the cooperative efforts between Cedar Rapids city officials and the farming community prove that collaborative solutions are more successful than punitive policies. Employing divisive action is not in anyone's best interest. In fact, everyone loses. Legal action creates a climate of distrust between farmers and policymakers, and this just serves to slow down efforts to improve food production and water supplies. And after all the dust has settled, a lawsuit will do nothing to improve the water in Iowa.
Unnecessary legal action against farmers and the agricultural industry has the potential to generate harsh regulations. This would slow down production and create economic hardship. Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (IPCW) promotes collaboration instead of division. We are committed to facilitating farmers' efforts to engage in environmentally responsible practices that ensure the health and safety of all Iowans.
Successful farming and conservation are not mutually exclusive goals. Rather, they go hand-in-hand. The sooner we all acknowledge this, the sooner we can improve water quality across the state.
' Ron Corbett is Mayor of Cedar Rapids and board member of the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org