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Cedar Rapids-led Project Receives USDA Funding to Improve Watershed

City of Cedar Rapids Press Release | 1/16/2015 

As of October 1, 2013, the following interest rates apply to new USDA-RD utility loans:

Poverty: 2.75%
Intermediate: 3.75%
Market: 4.625

CEDAR RAPIDS – Cedar Rapids City leaders held a news conference today to announce the launching of a $4.3 million project focused on improving water quality, water quantity and soil health in the Cedar River Watershed. The project will be possible thanks to funding from the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). This is one of 100 projects across all 50 states to receive more than $370 million as part of the new program. 

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, City Manager Jeff Pomeranz, and Utilities Director Steve Hershner, joined Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Marty Adkins, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to celebrate the important achievement and emphasize the need for this effort.  

See full press release here

See video of Mayor Ron Corbett 


USDA Selects Two Water Quality Focused Projects for New, Innovative Conservation Program

Joint News Release, USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) & Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship | 1/14/2015

DES MOINES - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that more than 100 high-impact projects across all 50 states, including Iowa, will receive more than $370 million as part of the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). 

 RCPP’s historic focus on public-private partnership enables private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in efforts to keep our land resilient and water clean, and promote tremendous economic growth in agriculture, construction, tourism and outdoor recreation, and other industries.

See full press release here


Northey to hold public meetings in Calhoun, Sac and Buena Vista Counties on Jan. 20 and 21

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Press Release | 1/14/2015

 Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that he will be visiting the three Northwest Iowa counties subject of a potential lawsuit by Des Moines Water Works on Tuesday, Jan. 20 and Wednesday, Jan. 21.  During the visits Northey will visit with community leaders and highlight the significant investment made by farmers in these counties to protect water quality.

“Iowa farmers have invested millions of dollars of their own money to help improve water quality.  We need to build on this momentum and work together.  Sensationalized rhetoric and threats of litigation are not the answer to help us achieve our joint goals of improved water quality in Iowa,” Northey said.

See full press release here 


Northey Praises Governor for Strong Support of Water Quality in Budget Proposal

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Press Release | 1/13/2015

DES MOINES - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today thanked Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds for including $7.5 million for the Water Quality Initiative in their budget proposal.  This proposal continues their strong support for a voluntary, science-based approach to improving water quality, building on the $2.4 million and $4.4 million received from the general fund in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 to support water quality.

“The Governor’s strong support for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative has been critically important and the $7.5 million provided in his budget would help us build on that exciting progress that has already been made,” Northey said.  “The legislature has also been extremely supportive of voluntary, science based water quality efforts and I look forward to working with legislators on a bipartisan basis in both the House and Senate on this budget request as we go through the appropriations process.”

See full press release here


Cover Crop Research and Demonstrations in Iowa (list and contact info)

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Press Release | 1/13/2015

Cover crops are seeing a surge in popularity as farmers continue efforts to improve water quality and soil health on their farms.  A recent survey found that one in four Iowa farmers are using cover crops today. Researchers, non-governmental groups (NGOs), and farmers are leading these efforts on investigating, learning, and publicizing the proper management techniques and considerations for using cover crops in Iowa.
These groups are in no small part responsible for much of the buzz and interest generated in recent years around cover crops.  Their research and demonstration activities have led to invaluable information to help provide better understanding on proper management and other considerations to making cover crops work in farms across Iowa. 

See full list here 


Desirae Willms - New USDA-RD Community Programs Specialist

(Added 1/12/2015)

Desirae Willms will be starting today as USDA-RD Iowa state office's new Community Programs Specialist. Desirae has been with the Agency since 2010 in the Le Mars office and has experience in both Community Programs and Housing Programs. She was also the City Clerk of Akron, Iowa prior to
joining the Agency. Congratulations Desirae on your new position at USDA-RD!


USDA, Partners Usher in a New Era in Conservation

New conservation initiative goes beyond traditional government efforts

Natural Resources
Conservation Service

RM 693 Federal Building
210 Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50309
Voice 515-284-6655
Email: larry.beeler@ia.usda.gov
Web: http://www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov

For Immediate Release ­

DES MOINES, IA, May 27, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the launch of what he calls “a new era in American conservation efforts” with an historic focus on public-private partnership.

“This is an entirely new approach to conservation,” Vilsack said. “We’re giving private companies, local communities and other non-government partners a way to invest in what are essentially clean water start-up operations.”

Pre-proposals for this new conservation program, called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), are due July 14.  Final proposals are due Sept. 26. RCPP was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill and streamlines conservation efforts by combining four programs (the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program, Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative, and the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion) into one.

The RCPP funding announcement can be found at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=256049.

The RCPP will competitively award funds to conservation projects designed by local partners specifically for their region. Eligible partners include private companies, universities, non-profit organizations, local and tribal governments and others joining with agricultural and conservation organizations and producers to invest money, manpower and materials to their proposed initiatives. Through RCPP, partners propose conservation projects to improve soil health, water quality and water use efficiency, wildlife habitat, and other related natural resources on private lands.

“Local decision making is empowered through this program–bringing together conservation groups, cities and townships, sportsmen groups, universities, agricultural associations and others – to design conservation projects that are tailored to our needs here in Iowa,” said Jay Mar, NRCS state conservationist in Iowa.

With the investment of participating partners, USDA’s $1.2 billion will leverage $2.4 billion for conservation over the life of the five-year program.

The RCPP has three funding pools:

For more information about Iowa’s RCPP information go to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted or local USDA service center. For more on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/FarmBill.

Larry Beeler, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 515-284-4353