Vote-buttonPatty Judge, the Democratic candidate challenging Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, says it’s time for “serious” attention to water quality concerns. She says that means agreeing to federal regulations that would restrict farm chemical run-off if nearby water is polluted.

“I believe we are at a place where we are going to have to look at standards and accept that,” Judge says.

Judge and her family run a cow-calf operation near Albia. She was also elected Iowa’s secretary of agriculture in 1998 and served eight years in that position. Judge says “sensible” regulations are possible to “leave cleaner water for the next generation.”

“We can write standards so that they work for family farmers, but we are going to have to be serious about cleaning up the water,” Judge says.

Judge says that does not mean federal limits for every farm that would limit the amount of manure, fertilizer and insecticide that can be applied. But she says it does mean allowing regulations if nearby lakes, rivers and streams have badly elevated levels of run-off.

“I think the days of looking at voluntary compliance are probably very short now and we are at a point where we will have to have some standards and regulations,” Judge says. “Our job as legislators is to make sure those are realistic, are something that farms can comply with and still farm and I believe we can do that.”

Judge made her comments today during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight on Iowa Public Television. During this spring’s primary campaign, Judge criticized the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit challenging the way three northwest Iowa counties manage farm chemical run-off. She said at the time that “shouting matches and lawsuits” aren’t the solution to the problem.

Robert Haus, Grassley’s campaign manager, this afternoon said Judge’s comments about regulating farm chemical run-off illustrate “how far out of touch she is” with Iowa’s agricultural community.

“It’s clear that Patty Judge plans to sell Iowa farmers down the river on the issue of water quality,” Haus says. “She advocates unleashing the EPA on Iowa’s most important industry. This shows just how far from the farm she has gone.”

(This story was updated at 3:33 pm with additional information)