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Climate Statement Speaks to Farmers

Clay Masters, Iowa Public Radio

The sixth annual Iowa Climate Statement is aimed directly at farmers.

It follows the lead of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack by calling for climate-smart agriculture.

The statement is signed by 187 scientists representing 39 colleges and universities in the state.

It urges farmers to take up efforts aimed at replacing carbon in the soil.

The director of the environmental science and policy program at Drake University, David Courard-Hauri, says climate-smart agriculture does more than reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It also helps farmers by reducing erosion, helps wildlife by providing habitat, helps pollinators by providing food, helps users of Iowa’s water by reducing pollution, and helps potential flood victims by reducing rapid runoff," he says.

The co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa, Jerry Schnoor, says farmers can get paid for conservation efforts.

“There are new opportunities and cash incentives for us to participate to reduce gas emissions, improve soil health, reduce soil erosion, improve pollinator habitat, and even water quality,” he says.

Schnoor cites a study from Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources indicating 27 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. He encourages farmers to pursue such practices as planting cover crops and implementing low-till farming methods.