Practical Farmers of Iowa Receives $936K for Water Quality from EPA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Lenexa, Kan., Aug. 14, 2019) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Practical Farmers of Iowa will receive a nearly $936K EPA Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreement to fund a project that improves water quality, habitat, and environmental education.
The Ames-based nonprofit organization, Practical Farmers of Iowa, 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,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “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,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “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,” said Practical Farmers of Iowa Strategic Initiatives Director Sarah Carlson. “Through farmer-to-farmer learning, PFI 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 PFI 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 today at the Iowa State Fair and was led by EPA Region 7 Administrator 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 watershed.
Since 2018, approximately $9.5 million has been awarded to support novel or innovative agricultural techniques, methods or approaches through EPA’s Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements. These projects support farmer-led and/or farmer-focused organizations with experience implementing programs and demonstration projects through collaboration with farmers. The projects will center around innovative monitoring systems that will measure and report field-scale water and nutrient dynamics to farmers in support of informed crop management decisions. The program supports science and technology-based water quality initiatives needed to protect watersheds while also maintaining a vital agricultural economy.
The Clean Water Act provides authority and resources that are essential to protecting water quality in the Gulf of Mexico and larger Mississippi River Basin. EPA’s regional offices and the Gulf of Mexico Division work with states to continue to maximize the efficiency and utility of water quality monitoring efforts for local managers by coordinating and standardizing state and federal water quality data collection activities in the Gulf region. Enhanced monitoring and research are needed in the Gulf Coast region to make data more readily available.
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