Iowa Ag Secretary speaks out about fertilizer regulations

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Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said Tuesday that any attempt to regulate fertilizer applications to improve water quality would fail to solve the problem and would make landowners “very, very miserable,” according to reports from the Des Moines Register.

Northey spoke to an audience of farmers at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s Economic Summit in Ames, Iowa, on Tuesday. He was joined by retired state engineer Dean Lemke.

“What if someone in authority decides we are going to regulate things?” Northey was quoted as saying. “What a mess that would be. First of all, it wouldn’t fix the problem. But it would make your lives very, very miserable.”

Northey offered a different approach to managing nutrient runoff from farms, which is blamed for creating the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Fertilizers have often been blamed for the dead zone and primarily Midwestern farmers whose runoff flows into the Mississippi River. Northey’s idea would be to enact voluntary conservation projects detailed in the state’s new Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Iowa is one of the first states to complete a strategy for reducing fertilizer runoff into the Mississippi River as a result of the 2008 Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan. Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy is expected to cost-effectively reduce nutrients from point sources.

More information about the details of The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy can be found at

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