Water quality cost share funds available

Iowa farmers encouraged to apply now for water quality cost share funds

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today reminded Iowa farmers that funds are available to help install practices focused on protecting water quality. Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.

The cost share rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre, no-till or strip till are eligible for $10 per acre and farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres.

First-time users that apply by July 24 will be the first applications funded. First-time users that apply after July 24 will still receive priority consideration, but funds also will be made available to farmers who have used cover crops in the past for cost share assistance at $15 per acre.

“We already have $1.6 million in applications from more than 700 farmers interested in doing more on their farm to protect water quality. This includes first-time uses of cover crops as well as farmers who have tried them before and are willing to do even more,” Northey said. “Fortunately, as a result of the significant increase in funding for water quality, we have additional funds available. I hope interested farmers will contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District soon to learn more about the assistance that is available.”

Farmers also are encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost share funding through other programs offered at their local SWCDs.

The cost share assistance was announced on May 12. Since then, the governor has signed into law $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, which is an increase of $5.2 million from the $4.4 million provided last year.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship also received $6.75 million for conservation cost share, a portion of which can be used on management practices such as cover crops.

In the last two years this program has been available, more than 1,400 farmers put in new nutrient reduction practices on more than 144,000 acres. The state provided about $3.4 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $3.4 million to support these water quality practices.

More information about the Iowa Water Quality Initiative can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.