Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig, campaigning Tuesday in Decorah, told decorahnews.com he's pleased with the state legislature's approval of Senate File 512, which sets up money for water quality efforts in Iowa over the next 12 years.
The bill will provide $2 million in funding in 2018-2019, $4 million in 2019-2020 and then $15 million a year starting in 2020-2021. Naig says the funds will be used to help support what he calls "edge of the field" projects such as buffers to hold water from farm fields.
Naig says his department's priority will be to provide adequate technical assistance to farmers from many sources, leveraging state funds with other dollars and forming partnerships to promote improved water quality in the state.
He admits the new program "will not be the last conversation we'll have" about water quality in Iowa, but he's fine with that. He says having funding ramp up over the next few years will allow the Ag Department to target specific watersheds as projects, then roll out programs on a statewide basis based on what is learned in the first few years.
Naig also told decorahnews.com that farmers in Iowa are talking with him about NAFTA and tariffs with China. He's hoping a NAFTA agreement can be reached pretty quickly over the next few days, since Canada and Mexico are the top two trading partners for Iowa. Meanwhile, there are "ongoing negotiations" with Chinese officials on the topic of trade relations between China and the United States.