In a survey of Iowa farmers, extreme weather, including more floods and droughts, was identified as a top risk to farm operations in the state. Paired with other concerns, like trade and the economy, farmers are facing increasingly steep financial risks.


A fact sheet released today by the Center for Rural Affairs, “Report Recap: Catching Waves: Farmers Gauge Risk to Advance Water Quality in Iowa,” analyzes risks, real and perceived, that farmers face when implementing water quality improvement practices. The publication also revealed that farmers in the state view the threat of potential regulation as a top concern.


“Perceptions held by Iowa’s producers should inform our water quality efforts going forward,” said Katie Rock, policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the fact sheet. “It’s clear that farmers are taking potential regulation and a changing climate more seriously.”


The results also found that farmer involvement was critical in improving water quality across the state. Projects are better implemented when producers are engaged as early as possible in the planning process. Farmers play a key role in project planning and implementation by attending public meetings, serving on watershed management authority boards, and more.


“No one group is to blame for the serious challenges facing Iowa’s water quality,” Rock said. “However, we have found that when farmers become leaders for water quality improvement, it is more often followed by success.”


Nearly 56 percent of the farmers who responded to the survey said they do not feel social pressure to implement water quality practices. For farmers who consider installing practices, soil health ranked as a top factor with nearly 87 percent of respondents saying it was a consideration.


The fact sheet is based on “Catching Waves: Farmers Gauge Risk to Advance Water Quality in Iowa,” a report released recently by the Center for Rural Affairs. To view the fact sheet, visit cfra.org/publications/ReportRecapCatchingWaves.