I live on 40 acres in rural Johnson County, an oasis of prairie, woodland, and wetland in the midst of row crops. Here, I work to restore the native oak-hickory savanna and add more prairie. This is a huge project that requires hard labor, REAP money from the Department of Natural Resources, and an investment of time. I care deeply about our land — I’m even thinking of getting a topological map of it tattooed onto my arm.
If you drive around in the country in Iowa, you can see that ours is a highly industrialized landscape. Our rolling hills are beautiful, but you can’t ignore the fact that farming has reshaped our land. Our state’s economy relies on it — agribusiness is here to stay.
But farming on that industrial scale creates problems. Far too many of our waterways are polluted. I’ve seen this at my own place, where the frog populations in the swampy areas have declined. And as a state, we’re contributing to pollution problems downstream — the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Our state Legislature has not passed a water-quality bill, and the one under consideration won’t force agribusiness to use their billions in profits to clean up the water crisis they’ve created.
Shouldn’t agribusinesses be responsible for cleaning up the messes they make instead of passing that cost to Iowa taxpayers? Why are we giving them a break on this? It’s not as if they’re going to pick up their farming operations and move somewhere else. The land is Iowa. We live on this land. We drink the water and breathe the air. Iowans need a water-quality law that demands that agribusiness take responsibility.
To stay up-to-date on water-quality bills, visit www.cciaction.org.
— Sarah Prineas Solon
I am 80 years old, an Iowan born and bred and educated at UI. A daughter lives in Iowa City. We own property. I love the state. I have always regarded Iowans as common sensible, reasonable, intelligent — I’ve never met an illiterate person.
Now, I find the Legislature has, among other things, legalized sawed-off shotguns, approved stand-your-ground laws, sharply cut public-educational funds, and at the same time turned a nearly billion-dollar surplus into a multimillion-dollar deficit.
Do Iowans really fear their neighbors so much they legalize weapons banned in civilized states since before I was born? And give them to children? Do they now have so little regard for life they approve killing an aggressor even if given an equally available means of escape without killing? Do they really approve crippling the public-educational system of a state once regarded as the envy of the entire nation? Do they punish victims of rape and incest twice, once with the original crime and second by forcing them to carry pregnancy to term even at risk of their life? Do they really approve a governor supposedly of the entire population who gives a speech promoting the idea that one party, the Democrats, is trying to sabotage the actions of the other?
I once supposed I might like to retire to Iowa City, a delightful small-college town. Active, intellectual, Big Ten sports, safe, four seasons. No more. Now I must reconsider those plans, as should anyone else. Apparently, the population has changed sharply and not for the better.
— John Rasmussen