Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Policy Initiative

The Policy Initiative focuses on local and regional policies that affect Iowans and Iowa agriculture.


  • Link potential local, state, or regional policies to enhanced sustainability of natural resources.
  • Provide basic research or benchmark data analysis needed to help assess or implement possible new local or state policies and alternatives for Iowa.

Target audiences

  • State agencies
  • Conservation and natural resources partners
  • County boards of supervisors
  • Cities/municipalities
  • Iowa General Assembly
  • Iowa legal community

Outcomes for Policy projects

  • Development and implementation of state and local policies that could increase the capacity of Iowa agriculture to meet water quality standards and water resource management goals. Ideas could include but are not limited to policies carried out by soil and water conservation districts, cities, counties, and municipalities, as well as state agencies and organizations with missions related to Iowa’s water resources.
  • Analysis of state and local agricultural policies and their impacts on economic, social, community and ecosystem health.

  • Assessment of short- and/or long-term effects of ongoing changes in land tenure and ownership of agricultural lands in Iowa; effects on production, land management decisions, ecosystem health and community economic and social structure. Work in this area could dovetail with the goals of the new Policy Initiative working group on land tenure and sustainability.
  • Identification of ways to reduce barriers to farming entry for new, transitioning, underserved and minority farmers, along with incentives to adopt sustainable practices in their new operations.

Initiative coordinator: Mary Adams (515) 294-5832, madams@iastate.edu

Be sure to check out these resources related to work of the Leopold Center Policy Initiative.

Watch these videos about land tenure and land ethics, produced by Drake University Ag Law Center.

Conservation Practices for Landlords outlines various options and their benefits and challenges. Author Mike Duffy comments on the options [April 2014 Ag Decision Maker newsletter].