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Conservation Progress in Iowa as Farm Progress Show Begins

PHOTO: The future of farming and conservation is in the spotlight as the largest outdoor farm equipment show in the U.S. gets underway Tuesday in Boone. Photo credit: Josh Flint/Farm Progress Show.
PHOTO: The future of farming and conservation is in the spotlight as the largest outdoor farm equipment show in the U.S. gets underway Tuesday in Boone. Photo credit: Josh Flint/Farm Progress Show.
August 26, 2014

BOONE, Iowa - As the nation's largest outdoor farm equipment show kicks off today in Boone, one issue in the spotlight is the nation's largest conservation program. More than 1,400 farms across Iowa and 20,000 farms across the nation are up for renewal for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Matt Russell with Practical Farmers of Iowa says the Conservation Stewardship Program is a working lands program, not a "set aside."

"It's the whole farm in most cases, all of the conservation practices put together on working lands and then taking those and adding some enhancements," says Russell.

Through the CSP, participants take additional steps to improve soil, water, and air quality. In the first five years of the program, nearly 60 million acres of farm and ranch land have been enrolled nationwide.

Russell says his farm in Marion County has implemented rotational grazing and cover crop practices, along with wildlife areas. They've also gone chemical-free, but Russell notes CSP allows for an approach that is greatly flexible and individualized.

"It is farm specific and farmer specific," he says. "Everything that's in your contract does improve conservation on your land, but you get to choose based on what your production model is, and what your own interests are in terms of conservation or stewardship."

For the first class of CSP participants, the window to apply to re-enroll will end on September 12th, while a general sign-up will be coming this fall. More information is available at the Practical Farmers of Iowa website, or through one of the many offices of the Natural Resources Conservation Service across the state.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA