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CSIF launches innovative on-farm environmental program


Safeguarding the state's air, soil and water quality is an obligation farm families who raise livestock share with all Iowans. To help livestock farmers even better fulfill that commitment, the Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers announces the availability of a new on-farm environmental program focusing on the planning and installation of vegetative environmental buffers.

The Green Farmstead Partner program is sponsored by CSIF along with the help of Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association. It offers timely and cost-effective assistance to farmers wanting to plant trees and shrubs around new and existing cattle feedlots, hog barns and poultry buildings.

Planting VEBs provides numerous benefits for farmers and their neighbors. When properly planned and installed, Iowa State University research finds that VEBs can reduce odor from livestock barns by 10 to 15 percent. The installation of trees and shrubs also improves neighborhood aesthetics, enhances soil and water quality, helps conserve energy use and creates a more pleasant working condition for farmers and their employees.

Megan Ritter, CSIF senior field coordinator, says the Green Farmstead Partner program meets a growing need that surfaced during the Coalition's work with nearly 1,300 livestock farmers.

"Since our launch in 2004, the Coalition has worked with farm families throughout the state, from choosing good locations for new livestock barns and feedlots to being the best neighbors they can be," Ritter says. "Along the way, many farmers have expressed an interest in planting vegetative buffers but didn't know where to start.

"The Green Farmstead Partner program," Ritter adds, "brings together experts to provide the technical resources farmers need to get the job done and done right."

Roger Hunt farms near Columbus Junction and serves as a field coordinator and design specialist for Trees Forever. He says the project is just one more example of how farmers and the environmental community are working together for stronger farms, neighborhoods and communities.

"Farmers are the caretakers for nearly 90 percent of Iowa's land area," Hunt says. "If we're talking about a healthy environment then we're talking about farmers because they've always had a keen interest in protecting the quality of our air, soil and water. I have a passion for this kind of work and look forward to networking with farmers, the Coalition and nursery and landscape professionals from around the state in support of this unique and innovative program."

Farmers interested in participating in the Green Farmstead Partner program can get started by calling the Coalition at 1-800-932-2436 or logging on to www.supportfarmers.com.

The website offers comprehensive information about the benefits of planting a vegetative buffer, considerations to keep in mind during the planning process and the names and contact information of nursery and landscape professionals who can help. In addition to capturing the benefits VEBs can provide, farmers who successfully install them can apply to receive, at no cost, a personalized Green Farmstead Partner sign for display on their farm.

Nurseries participating in the Green Farmstead Partner program include: Kelly Tree Farm, Clarence; Advanced Greenscapes, Ackley; River Valley Forest Services, Inc., Humboldt; Geode Forestry Inc., Swedesburg; Greenworld, Inc., Sioux Center; Hughes Nursery & Landscaping, Cedar Rapids; and Godbold Landscape Architecture, Spirit Lake.

Throughout the fall and winter, CSIF, Trees Forever and the INLA will conduct additional orientation sessions to help familiarize nursery and landscape professionals with program specifics. The organizations will also host field days statewide next spring promoting the benefits of vegetative buffers and to provide farmers with an opportunity to see first-hand the benefits of planting trees and shrubs on their livestock farms.

The Green Farmstead Partner program is supported by Alliant Energy, Farm Credit Services of America, Kent Feeds, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. and West Central.

"We salute these respected companies for their leadership in helping the farm and environmental communities work together toward a common goal," says Aaron Putze, CSIF executive director. "Iowans value and respect farmers and want to be assured that they're committed to protecting the quality of our air, soil and water.

"The Green Farmstead Partner program," Putze says, "is a timely example of how CSIF is working collaboratively with others to ensure that livestock and poultry are raised responsibly and successfully while growing our communities one farmer and one neighbor at a time."

The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers is a joint partnership involving the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Turkey Federation.

The non-profit organization provides, at no cost, assistance to farmers wanting to raise livestock responsibly and successfully. This includes choosing good locations for new livestock barns and feedlots, following all rules and regulations, improving relations between farmers and neighbors and implementing best management practices that enhance environmental quality.

CSIF does not lobby or develop policy. Farm families wanting a helping hand can contact the Coalition at 1-800-932-2436.

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