The leader of one of Iowa’s largest agricultural groups says some people wrongly blame farmers for the recent report that finds 750 segments of Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams are impaired by pollution.
Mike Paustian, of Walcott, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect the environment. “People who live in the urban areas want to point at the farmers and say they need to change what they’re doing,” Paustian says, “and the farmers want point at people in the cities and say, ‘No, you need to change what you’re doing,’ but the reality is, we all need to work together and we all need to do our part to try and solve this problem.”
The report released last week by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows 61-percent of the state’s rivers and streams and 67-percent of lakes and reservoirs are impaired. Paustian says most of pork producers are proactive in protecting the state’s waters and they have flow meters on their manure application equipment.
“They know exactly how many gallons per acre they’re putting on. It’s really gotten fine-tuned,” Paustian says. “As we look to implement additional practices in the field, above and beyond what we’re already doing, we’ll just continue to get better.” Following the release of the DNR report, environmental activists started calling for a moratorium on all large agricultural operations. Paustian says that’s unfair.
“It’s a little bit of a disingenuous argument to try to make it about size,” Paustian says. “We have producers of all sizes in Iowa and it really doesn’t matter what size you are, you can still do a good job with your nutrient management or a bad job. It’s up to the individual. Size doesn’t really have much to do with it.”
Paustian says many producers are growing cover crops where they’re able to apply manure and keep the beneficial impacts in the soil.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)