Guest Opinion: Johnson County needs to support its farmers

A local farmer writes about concerns that the Board of Supervisors could harm family farms.


Ryan Adams

The numerous blades of wheat in one of Dick Sloan’s many farm fields is seen on the morning of June 18, 2019. Sloan utilizes no-till, cover crops, and prairie strips as practices to reduce nutrient runoff and soil erosion.

As a fourth-generation farmer raising grain and cattle in Johnson County, I know there is a lot of support for agriculture in eastern Iowa. In fact, I see it almost every time I stop in town to get gas or take my family out to supper. It’s emblazoned on the black and gold shirts of the people I bump into: America Needs Farmers.

But what I want those supporters to know is Johnson County needs farmers, too, and, right now, proposed regulations by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors are threatening family farms. The proposals add extra hurdles for beginning farmers and farms such as mine who want to expand to provide opportunity for sons, daughters, and even grandchildren to someday farm. And these proposals don’t just affect livestock farmers like me, but good people I know who raise fruits and vegetables on their small farms.

For the past year, Johnson County farmers have banded together to say these extra regulations aren’t right, such as limiting how many animals we can have on one acre or having to jump through hoops to prove you are a farmer if you own less than 40 acres.

We need the people who believe “America Needs Farmers” to step up and say so. I would encourage you to call or email our supervisors or come to a public hearing on Dec. 5 at the Johnson County Public Health building in Iowa City to voice your support for agriculture in our county. The agricultural community in Johnson County needs your support now 

Steve Swenka, Johnson County resident