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Farmers Defend Their Farming

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) More than 150 Iowa Professors and Climate Researchers said that antiquated farming practices in the state need to be changed, and soon. Local farmers werent very happy.

The growing season started with too much water and ended with one of the driest few months on record. Because of that, some Iowa scientists say they want to work with the Department of Agriculture to agree on new farming measures and maybe even some policy changes to save the land. Some local farmers think thats all just armchair quarterbacking.

"We've seen the whole cycle, the whole gamut of things. And being a proactive farmer, you just have to prepare yourself for what might be on the horizon, said Johnson County Farmer Steve Swenka

Since the farmers watch market values, adjust to changes in the weather and survive dry spells like the one this summer, local farmers say theyre the best judge of how to adapt to the climate, not the researchers.

"They don't understand modern agriculture to begin with when they reference things done 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, said the President of the Iowa Corn and Soybean Growers Association John Airy.

The report says farmers need more cover crops. Airy spoke at length about how he and his fellow farmers already work to protect their soil. The report says fields need large waterways to accommodate runoff. Swenka says he and other farms already build those in.

"Farmers are just very good stewards of the land and you gotta ask yourself, 'Why wouldn't they be?' The farm we're standing on right now has been in my family for over 100 years, said Swenka.

One of the ways that farmers have been more environmentally conscious recently is by not tilling their fields. You can tell that by all these corn stalks from last year's harvest in a soy bean field this year. If the land had been tilled, the soil would have been turned up on itself and these stalks would be underground. Not tilling the soil helps to keep much needed nutrients in the soil.

"You wouldn't even recognize the tillage practices some of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers did, said Swenka

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow's a pencil and you're a thousand miles away from a cornfield, said Airy.

Some of the farmers wondered if this report was released now because negotiations on a new Farm Bill are just starting up. They say this would be a chance for groups like the Environmental Science and Policy Program, one of the organizations that helped release the study to have their input.
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