Al Grigg, County Extension Education Director, Lyon & Osceola Counties
Lyon County has 1,045 farms with 341,534 acres in production. These farms produce $67.2 million in crop sales and $180.7 million in livestock sales. (Data from 2002 Census of Ag). Many of the non-farm residents of Lyon County are not aware of the best practices implemented by livestock and crop farmers to protect and enhance water and air quality.
To educate county and community officials and county residents, Iowa State University Extension of Lyon County partnered with Lyon County NRCS, Lyon County Conservation Board, Lyon County Farm Bureau, Lyon County Cattlemen and Lyon County Pork Producers to host an Environmental Education Tour of the County to show how agricultural and livestock production can compliment environmental stewardship. 24 people signed up and participated in the environmental education tour.
The tour consisted of three livestock operations in the morning, a presentation during the noon lunch hour, and two livestock operations in the afternoon plus a city wellhead protection area and a city waste water treatment plant. The 3 stops in the morning visited a family farm beef open feedlot enterprise where they were constructing their second solid settling system; a family beef feedlot enterprise where they were using a monoslope building for a total confined system; and a family swine enterprise using a swine nursery with a deep pit under the building for total containment plus terracing and water retention basins on their highly erodible land. The noon luncheon presentation featured the economic impact of the livestock industry in the six county area of northwest Iowa and also the impact in Lyon County. Afternoon tours were to a family owned and operated dairy which is doubling in size from 300-350 cows to 600-700 cows and the manure containment and collection system; an investor owned swine farrowing facility which is doubling in size; a city wellhead protection area; and a city waste water treatment plant. Best practices for water and air quality enhancement were discussed at each of the stops in addition to the economic impact of the operation.
Upon conclusion of the county education environmental tour, participants stated that they learned that environmental issues are important to family and public enterprises and that all these entities can co-exist with the general public, given a level of understanding and cooperation. Some wondered if environmental issues should be regulated on a local basis and after discussion discovered it would be difficult to have any consistency across the state if local control of regulations were implemented. All tour participants agreed that continuing education and informational programs need to be provided. A future tour date has been set for August 2007.
One of the local newspapers featured the tour on the cover page of their paper plus an additional full page devoted to informing the public about the tour. A regional weekly paper also had full page coverage of the tour, to educate the public about environmental issues that livestock producers face every day and the best practices that livestock enterprises are doing.
101-Strategic and Organizational Management
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July 8, 2006
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