FILE - Iowa farm

Farmland near the Mississippi River in Northeast Iowa

For the first time, some Iowa farmers are joining conservationists in calling for a law that would prevent crops from being grown within 30 feet of rivers or streams.

Last August, the Conservation Districts of Iowa approved a resolution which says that the group should support legislation similar to neighboring Minnesota’s buffer law, which requires buffer strips between harvested farmland and certain bodies of water.

“We kind of used that as an example that makes us realize that it’s possible to do,” Mason farmer and CDI president Dennis Carney told The Center Square.

CDI is comprised of 500 elected soil and water conservation district members. When explaining the organization resolution process, Carney said that a county in Iowa can present a resolution regarding a rule or a law it would like to see changed.

“One county presented [the] resolution that we should be promoting a law similar to Minnesota’s buffer law,” he explained. “That went through our whole process and got approved by a mail-in vote … This resolution received enough votes and at our conference, we received more than 60 percent support. So we take that as a mandate that’s what our commissioners would like us to do.”

According to Carney, the state’s producers realized that a water quality problem exists and rules are needed to prohibit farmers from planting too close to the waterways.

“It’s always been an issue,” he said. “It’s just that we’ve become a little more informed about water quality. We realized that we shouldn’t be growing crops because there’s always overspray or fertilizer that gets spread too far. We don’t have that buffer to prevent when water runs off the field … if we have a buffer between the field and the creek or stream or river, it helps to catch some of the soil and some of those pollutants. It’s one of the easiest things we can do to improve our water quality.”