Growing up on a small sustainable farm near Marshalltown, I really learned to value the land and all of the natural systems that worked together to produce our food. The basic principle of my family's farming practices was everything affects everything. You can't expect your actions to be free of consequences. Today, corporate agribusiness in Iowa is forgetting that very basic principle and putting our water and environment at risk.
As of right now, Iowa has 470 rivers that are classified as impaired. Unfortunately, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy supposedly in place to protect our waters is weak - it provides no new mandates for reducing agriculture runoff. As it stands, the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy caters to the desires of corporate agribusiness. It's a set of voluntary practices for agriculture to reduce runoff - with no incentives or requirements of farmers.
Gov. Terry Branstad has the ability to change this. We must ask him to mandate corporate agribusiness and prevent them from polluting. We need to create accountability to our rivers through limits on pollution from Big Ag. These mandates could be something as simple as numeric nutrient criteria for phosphorus and nitrogen. Right now, the comment period on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is open until Friday. If we speak up now, we may be able to finally get real protection for Iowa's rivers.