A group of Iowa farmers and ag leaders leave for Mississippi today to study efforts to curb the effects of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. The so-called dead zone is believed to be the result of chemicals that washed off farm fields across the Midwest. Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey is leading the delegation and says they’re touring conservation sites to learn more about hypoxia.
“What we’re doing, what they’re doing, what the impact of water quality is as far as the nitrogen and phosphorus going down the Mississippi River,” Northey says. “We’re taking a group of farmers down there to talk to some of their farmers and actually get out into the Gulf as well.”
This trip has been in the planning stages for some time, long before the recent oil rig explosion and spill in the Gulf. Northey says he’s not sure how the B-P disaster will impact the Iowa group’s fact-finding mission. “The plan was to see hypoxic areas in the Gulf,” Northey says. “We’ll see whether we see that or we’ll see oil or what. Then also, bringing some of those folks up to Iowa to show them what we’re doing on water quality wetlands and other water quality techniques back here.”
Northey says the goal of the Farmer to Farmer Exchange is to share information and promote conservation practices that help address hypoxia in the Gulf. The Iowa delegation will be in Mississippi through Sunday. A group of Mississippi farmers and ag leaders will visit Iowa in July.
By Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer