Ag secretary tours farm bill sites with Ducks Unlimited

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue joined Ducks Unlimited recently for an up-close look at how the Farm Bill’s voluntary, incentive-based conservation programs can improve water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.

Perdue toured two sites in the Raccoon River Watershed about one hour west of Des Moines. The first site was to see wetland habitat, enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, near Rippey. CRP pays a yearly rental payment to farmers, ranchers and landowners to conserve environmentally sensitive land important for our nation’s waterfowl and other wildlife.

Next, the Secretary toured a site located near Lake Panorama, in the town of Panora. The Lake Panorama Association implemented Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program practices to improve the water quality of the lake and surrounding areas. As a part of CRP, CREP is a partnership between state governments and the federal government and nonprofit organizations that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally-sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat and safeguard ground and surface water.

“It is always great to see up close the projects that USDA is funding. It is evident that these partnerships with Ducks Unlimited, landowners and communities are working in concert with production agriculture and benefitting wildlife. As an avid wing shooter, I know firsthand the contributions that CRP makes to recreation and land stewardship for the betterment of our citizens,” said Perdue.

The Farm Bill represents the largest federal investment in conservation for private lands in the country. Key agriculture conservation programs rely on the voluntary involvement of farmers, ranchers and other landowners around the country. Since more than 70 percent of the lower 48 states is privately owned, nationwide conservation efforts and collaboration with our partners in agriculture are key.

“We appreciate the opportunity to show Perdue these essential Farm Bill conservation dollars at work,” said Kellis Moss, director of public policy for Ducks Unlimited. “Wetlands are the life blood that ensure our nation’s waterfowl thrive, here in Iowa and across the country. Without support from our partners at USDA, passionate landowners, state entities and corporate sponsors, landscape-level conservation could not be achieved.”

Iowa’s water quality shows the effects of diminished conservation efforts and a lack of wetlands, with less than 10 percent of Iowa’s historic wetlands still intact.