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Roundtable Discussions to Help Farmers Shape Policy

Farmers will gather in six meetings around the state this month to help share solutions to common problems and develop long-term policy. (Center for Rural Affairs)
Farmers will gather in six meetings around the state this month to help share solutions to common problems and develop long-term policy. (Center for Rural Affairs)
March 7, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa - In order to build strong rural communities and farm families, Iowa farmers need to work together to solve common issues of interest.

A series of six roundtable discussions and conversations in March is designed to help them do just that. Stephanie Enloe, Rural Policy Program Associate of the Center for Rural Affairs, says the gatherings will do more than just get people to know one another.

"We are working to gather farmers, to have discussions about two issues of high priority to them, which are meeting the goals of the nutrient reduction strategy through conservation programs," she says. "And finding ways to help the next generation get started, so finding ways to support beginning farmers."

Those attending will break into working groups to discuss issues such as farm bill conservation programs, and helping the next generation of farmers get started.

Enloe says it's important for farmers to make a connection with like-minded people in their area.

"I hope farmers really get out of the meetings an opportunity to talk with their neighbors about some of their common goals, some common barriers, as well as some more information about how to advocate for policies that might be able to support them," she says.

The programs are designed to not only help farmers to feel empowered, but to assist the Center for Rural Affairs in developing policy positions that are informed by the farmers they serve.

Roughly $10 billion has been cut from farm bill conservation programs in recent years, requiring farmers to learn how to compensate for that loss.

"We're experimenting with new innovative practices, management practices, that can help them to serve public interest in terms of water quality, meet those nutrient-reduction goals, protect their soil, and the public has an interest in those practices," says Enloe.

To learn more, go to cfra.org. The first session will be in Eagle Grove tonight, with additional programs this week in Atlantic and Sioux Center.

A final trio of programs will be in Washington, Dyersville, and Emmetsburg later in the month.

Jeff Stein, Public News Service - IA