From bad to worse?
I got into a debate with Leopold earlier this year about Conservation Reserve Program at the Iowa Farmers Union annual convention. In fact, our debate/discussion spilled out into the hallway, where Iowa Farmer Today editor Gene Lucht tried to intervene (or at least get us to slow down long enough to get some quick quotes).
I believe CRP should be scaled back, only to be used to preserve the most environmentally sensitive land. It should no longer be used to keep land suitable to crops/hay/pasture off the market, and the taxpayer shouldn't have to foot the bill. As I've written before, our southern counties have a lot of ground in CRP, and Uncle Sam is the biggest land hog around. It is hard for beginning farmers to get started when some of the available land is tied up by the government.
Leopold couldn't understand this concept. He believed that land in CRP should stay in CRP indefinitely, and that the environmental benefits outweighed the opportunity to generate REAL income from these lands. He could not see that CRP was hindering real economic development in our area, even if that development was environmentally friendly. It was obvious to me that this guy hadn't been to the field for a LONG time. His view on CRP was about as close to the real world as his view from his Iowa Environmental Council office...the parking lot at the west side of the Capitol.
Leopold, having been the director of the Iowa Environmental Council, made him the representative of a wide array of enivonmental interests, ranging from the Iowa Farm Bureau to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI). It even includes my organization, the Iowa Farmers Union.
I have no idea what Leopold's view is on deer, but if it is as limited as his view on CRP, I'm afraid we'll have more deer, less guided/leased hunting, and more restrictions to derive real economic and environmental development here in the South of Iowa. I'm glad he's for sustainable energy, such as wind, but I don't know how much his department has to contribute to (or regulate) the matter.
Overall, I am very wary of Rich Leopold taking over the DNR. This might be the an early indication of how Boy Governor's administration will operate.
Props to State 29 for bringing this up.