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Cover Crop mix USDA.jpg Photo by Mark Liebig, USDA-ARS.
A cover crop mixture that includes oat, proso millet, canola, sunflower, dry pea, soybean and pasja turnip.

EPA funds major water quality initiative in Iowa

Practical Farmers of Iowa looks to help create cover crop champions and achieve 5% improvement in water quality with $936,000 grant.

Practical Farmers of Iowa will receive a $936,000 Environmental Protection Agency Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreement to fund a project that improves water quality, habitat and environmental education.

Practical Farmers of Iowa, an Ames, Iowa-based nonprofit organization whose mission is equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities, is being awarded $935,788 for its project, “Roots for Water Quality: A Farmer-to-Farmer Model for a Sustainable Mississippi Basin.” The organization will equip Iowa farmers with tools to accelerate implementation of cover crops through shifting the tone of mainstream agriculture, doubling the number of cover crop champions, lowering barriers to implementation and measuring a 5% improvement in water quality. Farmers will be trained to become “cover crop champions” so they can educate and mentor other farmers.

“These Farmer to Farmer grants will promote innovative, market-based solutions for monitoring and improving water quality throughout the Gulf of Mexico watershed,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. “These grants are an important part of our efforts to support America’s farmers in a manner that strengthens both American agriculture and the protection of our nation’s vital water resources.”

“Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements directly support science- and technology-based water quality initiatives needed to protect our watersheds while also maintaining a vital agricultural economy,” EPA Region 7 administrator Jim Gulliford added. “Here in Region 7, a combined $3.15 million in funding will support Iowa in the restoration and installation of wetlands as well as the use of cover crops to help provide measurable water quality improvement to waterways across Iowa and further downstream in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Practical Farmers of Iowa is ready to increase the use of cover crops in Iowa to tackle our water quality issues,” Practical Farmers of Iowa strategic initiatives director Sarah Carlson said. “Through farmer-to-farmer learning, [Practical Farmers of Iowa] has proven that cover crops are an essential tool of the agronomic toolbox to manage weeds and reduce soil erosion while improving water quality in a corn and soybean rotation. This EPA funding will allow [Practical Farmers of Iowa] to create new tools, like a ‘ride-sharing’ app for farmers. Instead of looking for a ride, farmers will be able to use the app to find qualified cover crop applicators during the busy harvest season.”

A ceremony honoring the Iowa recipients took place at the Iowa State Fair and was led by Gulliford. EPA anticipates awarding seven Gulf of Mexico Division cooperative agreements totaling more than $7.5 million to fund projects that improve water quality, habitat and environmental education in the Gulf of Mexico watershed.

TAGS: Policy
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