In the 2016 Iowa legislative session no two issues will be as contentious as education and water quality. An article in last Monday’s Register explained the tradeoff with education Gov. Branstad anticipates as necessary to fund water quality projects despite Iowa receiving $150 million for 2016 water quality projects. Although Iowa has a rich educational tradition, according to U.S. News & World Report, in 2015, Iowa’s schools were ranked 41st in the nation. Forcing education to tradeoff with clean water projects only unfairly disadvantages Iowa’s high school graduates and makes them less competitive with other college applicants.
However, having clean water and taking care of our environment is equally as important because Iowans and other Americans depend on a healthy environment to make a living. So, what should be done?Education funding should remain earmarked for education. And, 2016 water quality projects should be fully funded with the federal money. Instead of forcing a tradeoff Gov. Branstad should consider opening up a new revenue stream to supplement funding for both education and water quality projects. This revenue stream is industrial hemp.
Industrial hemp is a tremendous nutrient remediator and has rapidly restored equilibrium to soil and water ecologies. Hemp uses excess nutrients from the soil during photosynthesis before they cam drain into water resources and harm aquatic ecosystems. Also, hemp has nothing to do with drug legalization; in fact, hemp cultivation makes it harder for black market traffickers to grow marijuana.Section 7606 in the 2014 Farm Bill legitimized hemp growth for states whose legislatures have approved of it. As of 2016, 27 states have removed barriers for hemp production, including four of Iowa’s six neighboring states.
Instead of being coerced into believing there is no good option; being forced to choose between two bad options while throwing our high school graduates under the bus Iowans should demand a solution that is a good option.If better options exist, they must be also be considered. If a natural approach can restore water quality, offer an invaluable cash crop to Iowan farmers and create new opportunity in once vibrant rural areas, that should be a choice too. Now faced with 2 bad options and one workable option the choice becomes clear. The best option is hemp.Aaron Schoeneman
— Aaron Schoeneman