DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)--Farmers struggling to understand a growing number of environmental rules and regulations will find help from a new coalition formed by six agriculture organizations.
The Coalition to Support Iowa's Farmers is a joint effort of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Soybean Association.
The group will provide farmers with technical support and resources related to animal agriculture and regulation of the industry.
"Many no longer have the time, money or expertise needed to comply with the significant number of rules and regulations impacting their business," said Tim Niess, the coalition's executive director. "Even worse, some feel helpless when their family is targeted and threatened by those opposed to their occupation.
"Today, those valid concerns will be overcome by a powerful, unique partner--that is the CSIF," he said.
The coalition also will help farmers communicate with the public, said Aaron Putze, a spokesman for the group. He said research shows that nearly 75 percent of Iowans have a positive view of animal production and that "we are going to build upon that by taking the word to the street."
Rich Leopold, executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, said he is "skeptically encouraged" by the formation of the farm group.
If the members are serious about their mission and don't try to get around the regulations, it's a good idea, he said.
"We agree with the premise that most farmers are doing a good job and a few aren't, and the whole industry suffers because of the few," Leopold said. "If they are serious about getting problem operations in compliance, that's a good thing."
The coalition, based in Des Moines, will be directed by a six-member board of directors made up of the executive directors of each of the member organizations.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge said the group will help the livestock industry, which she called a critical component of the state's economy, generating nearly $500 million in local and state taxes.
"With the CSIF's help, we'll move from simply trying to retain livestock production to actually growing farms in a responsible and sustainable way. This transformation will provide a significant boost to our economy and quality of life," she said.