Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa’s conservation and agricultural leaders will join forces on June 22 to discuss how the 2012 U.S. Farm Bill can better conserve the state’s land, water and rural communities.
Sponsored by the Izaak Walton League of America with the Iowa Environmental Council, Nebraska Wildlife Federation and the Center for Rural Affairs, the June 22 forum is scheduled from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, located at 4343 George Flagg Parkway.
Featured speakers include Jim Gillespie, Field Services Bureau Chief of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship; Tom Shipley, Director of Issues Management and Policy Implementation with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association; John Whitaker, Executive Director of Iowa State Farm Service Agency; and Richard Sims, Iowa State Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Among the issues to be discussed are:

·         Conservation Easements & Reserves – Duane Sands, Iowa Natural Heritage and Duane Hovorka, Nebraska Wildlife Federation

·         Working Land Conservation – Traci Bruckner, Center for Rural Affairs and Francis Thicke with Practical Farmers of Iowa

·         Conservation Compliance – Brad Redlin, Izaak Walton League

·         Targeting Conservation – Craig Cox, Environmental Working Group

“Every five years, a massive piece of legislation called the Farm Bill determines how tens of billions of federal tax dollars will be spent to shape American agriculture. These sessions will help all Iowans – from food growers to food buyers – better understand how the Farm Bill impacts our food, soil, air and water and how we can better shape sustainable food and farm priorities,” said Susan Heathcote, Water Program Director for the Iowa Environmental Council.
The Izaak Walton League of America is spearheading events in five Midwest states – Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin – to discuss the needs and opportunities for the 2012 Farm Bill. The goal is to gain public input from all types of citizens on the effective role of the Farm Bill in supporting an agricultural system that achieves stewardship, prosperity, and fairness.
“That means federal farm policies should support agricultural practices that are good for farmers, good for the environment, and good for America,” said Brad Redlin, agricultural program director of the Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA).
The U.S. Farm Bill sets federal policy for agriculture, energy, conservation, nutrition, and rural development. The last bill, passed in 2008, was called the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and carried a price tag of $288 billion. In today’s tough economic times, funding for the Farm Bill will be under increased scrutiny, which underscores the importance of public involvement at these initial stages, event organizers explained.
One way the IWLA is exploring to increase conservation and save federal tax dollars in the 2012 Farm Bill is to prioritize existing conservation standards.
“Conservation Compliance can help ensure that where public money is invested, the public’s interests are protected by requiring basic levels of protections for soil, water, and wetlands. Compliance actions require no additional Farm Bill investment – in fact, they can result in saving federal dollars.” Redlin said.
For more information about the Izaak Walton League of America and the Farm Bill go to www.iwla.org/agconservation. More about Conservation Compliance is contained in IWLA issue briefs:
The Conservation Compliance Covenant: Issue Brief I
Conservation Compliance and Crop Insurance: Issue Brief II
The Iowa Farm Bill Forum is free and open to the public.  To attend, please RSVP by contacting Gwen Steel at gsteel@iwla.org or (651) 649-1446.