Republican Congressman David Young has developed a new plan for distributing a block of federal dollars reserved for water quality improvement projects.
Young hopes to tack his idea onto the next Farm Bill and change the way money in the U.S.D.A.’s already-existing “Environmental Quality Incentive Program” is distributed.
“You’ve heard of precision agriculture. I see this as precision conservation,” Young says. “What it does is it targets funds in a new way, a new approach from this EQIP account, to watersheds.”
Young got input from a variety of groups that are often at odds — including the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Farmers Union as well as the Des Moines Water Works and the Iowa Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve had the debate in Iowa about water quality and so I thought to myself: ‘What is there that maybe I could do or congress could do at the federal level to help with this issue?'” Young said. “…There’s a way to target existing federal funds.”
Young envisions communities, farmers, researchers and other stakeholders developing a “precision conservation plan” for watersheds in order to qualify for any federal “EQIP” grants in that area. Young says states should provide matching funds and the projects should be monitored to find out which conservation methods are most effective.