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National Conservation Districts Meet In Iowa

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In a conference in Altoona, Iowa, leaders of the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) and National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) held a joint meeting and conference.

One of the big topics in the hallways was the farm bill and USDA leadership, conservation districts work closely with the National Resource Conservation Service.

But conservation in Iowa isn't the same as conservation elsewhere according to Clare Lindahl, Executive Director of CDI. There are 3,000 conservation districts across the nation.

She says, "Arizona doesn't have rain, we have sometimes too much rain. Wild fires, wild horses, grazing, all of those things are very unique to the different states, but what we share is districts have the ability to build partnerships to address unique resource concerns and they start that at the grassroots local level."

Lindahl says it's good to see different perspectives around conservation, so they can learn new ways of problem management.

President of the NACD Brent Van Dyke says where he farms in New Mexico a good year brings 13 inches of rain. Conservation districts there focus more on saving water quantity over water quality.

He says an overarching goal of all the conservation districts is sustainability in agriculture, "Soil health is huge, we're realizing how important soil health is and healthy soil and producing that food and fiber and there's a lot of industry out there that are focusing on that."

Van Dyke says conservation on a national scale is difficult because there's no model that fits all farms, which is why they rely on the local districts and commissioners.

In Iowa, there are 500 elected commissioners across 100 districts.