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Farm families honored for environmental stewardship

Kacey Birchmier Updated: 08/16/2013 @ 9:58am I grew up on a fourth-generation farm in central Iowa. Follow me on twitter - @KaceyBirchmier.

Sixty-three Iowa farm families were recognized for their environmental stewardship today in an award ceremony at the Iowa State Fair. The families were presented with the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award. “It’s a small way to say thank you for your good environmental stewardship, and how much we as leaders of this state recognize and appreciate what you’re doing each and every day,” says Governor Terry Branstad.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources sponsored the award. Families recognized had taken steps to make environmental stewardship a priority on their farms and are leaders in improving soil health and water quality.

“90% of cropland in Iowa is farmed with some sort of conservation,” says Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor. “As the state rolls out a nutrient reduction strategy, we hope to partner with you, through a cost-share program to install appropriate practices that help protect our natural resources,” she says.

A few practices the award-winning families implemented included no-till, nutrient management plans, cover crops, buffer strips, variable-rate nitrogen applications, and soil sampling.

After the award ceremony, award winners were celebrated at a recognition dinner sponsored by Hagie Manufacturing. Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was the featured speaker. “I hope she sees all too well that agriculture is so important to our states economy,” says Branstad. “We appreciate the opportunity for Gina to have conversation with Iowans, and learn how EPA rules and regulations do impact the people that are involved in production agriculture,” he added.

McCarthy made a commitment, by the end of her term, there would be a stronger, more productive and trusting relationship between the EPA and the agriculture community.

“We know that we both share the same mission, we know we both share the same values,” says McCarthy. She pointed out there are challenges to face, and they need to be faced together.

“You are the folks on the ground everyday that are creating the food, fiber, and fuel for this nation and for the world. While you’re doing that, you’re also creating a cleaner environment for all of us and for our children,” says McCarthy.

“I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to work with folks like you, who everyday understand what it means to have the value of clean land, clean water, clean air. It’s incredibly important to all of us. But we know that it’s vitally important for you. For the work that you do, and the value you place in having your families continue to cherish and live in the same land and breath the same air and drink the same water that you have been protecting for so many generations,” says McCarthy.

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