Locally, Ottumwa is working on projects to avoid damaging runoff problems, Rasmussen said. Northey responded that Ottumwa should be commended so other cities will see the value of those projects, which are also protecting Wapello County properties. And from a practical point of view, the millions of dollars recently approved by the Iowa House come from supporters who are both farmers and nonfarmers, Northey added. For most farmers, dirtying the water is not a way to do business.
To protect the Compentine Creek basin, which is Rasmussen's area of responsibility, he, farmers and USDA employees have overseen 126,000 feet of terraces, a total of about 50 projects in two years. There's a reason why all that money is spent in such a concentrated area, he said. The second-tier benefit of the erosion-defeating structures is that they hold back floodwaters.
"When we talk about infrastructure in Iowa?" said Northey.
He pointed out the project in the adjacent fields.
"Make no mistake. This is infrastructure, every bit as much as a road. We've got to have structures to keep that soil in place. It's hard to ring money out of a Legislature," Northey said of the $7 million recently approved for ag projects, "but they believe in the stuff you are doing."
— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.