The state of Iowa is considering setting up a 150 million dollar per year environmental trust fund to help with environmental situations like water quality, soil erosion, and wildlife habitat. It would also be used to fund parks and trails. The money for the trust would come from a sales tax increase of less than one percent.
A major focus for the trust could be wetlands restoration, which have been in decline. Wetlands help divert rainwater from flooding rivers and streams. Flooding has caused much damage, including removing precious topsoil from agricultural fields. A trust fund with money accumulated over a number of years could help focus long-term efforts on flood reduction through wetlands restoration, a process which requires years of effort, not merely a fix or two annually. Iowa is the top corn producing state in the U.S., even outproducing some countries.
The reason for its very high productivity is very fertile soil. Environmental activists are encouraging the public to vote for the trust. Shannon Ramsey, president of Trees Forever said, “Of all states, we’re 47th in conservation funding and 49th in amount of public lands. Half of waters are rated as ‘poor’ and we lose soil to erosion every year.” (Source: Thonline.com)
The Iowa Farm Bureau is against the measure saying it could hurt the economy. Charlie Winterwood from the Audubon Society said, “There will be millions going for soil conservation, an important issue for farmers, so I’m amazed that Farm Bureau is against this. When 90 percent of Iowa’s legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, voted twice in favor of this, what can they base their opposition on?” (Source: Thonline.com)
A Democratic candidate for Agriculture Secretary in Iowa, and a farmer, says he wants to become Secretary to help the state rebuild its topsoil. Doing so is not merely a detail of farming practice, it is sound economics as protecting the land means it can continue providing quality crop yields and incomes for communities. Francis Thicke said, “Since we started farming in Iowa, we’ve lost about half our top soil to erosion and we’ve lost half of that black carbon organic matter to oxidation from crop production, so you might say we’ve depleted our ecological capital by our farming methods.” (Source: radioiowa.com)
Image Credit: Tim Kiser