Access to legal and regulatory information that impacts their operation is vital to Iowa farmers.

Organized in a question and answer format, this "Iowa Farmer's Legal and Regulatory Guide to Environmental Issues" website is intended to help farmers navigate the environmental issues they face and figure out the answers to questions such as, "What are our rights and responsibilities?" And, "Where can we find more information?"

The Guide is compiled by the Drake Agricultural Law Center under the direction of Neil Hamilton, one of the nation's leading authorities on ag law. Established by Hamilton more than 30 years ago, the Ag Law Center was the first of its type in the country. In addition to educating attorneys to assist their ag clients, another purpose of the Law Center is to provide educational information for farmers.

In 1990 Hamilton oversaw the publication of an important guide, What Farmers Need to Know about Environmental Law, written under a grant from the Iowa Soybean Promotion Board, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Iowa Cattlemen's Association.

Faced now with a growing need to provide an online tool for farmers to learn more about the environmental laws and regulations that impact their operations, the Iowa Soybean Association's Environmental Programs and Services (ISA EPS) team turned once again to Hamilton and the Ag Law Center.

The result is this website. Funded by the soybean checkoff and a Congressional allocation through NRCS, it is a practical response to a practical need. Its goal is to provide reader-friendly content that is not written in legalese, though some degree of legal terminology must be included for it to be informative and useful.

This reference tool fills a gap by making information about environmental laws and regulations available and understandable to nonlawyers and pointing them toward more information, but it is not a substitute for a personal attorney. It cannot take into account the facts of a particular situation, but it may provide enough information for a farmer to know whether he or she has an issue and needs to contact an attorney.

The website may prove especially helpful to farmers participating in ISA's CEMSA (Certified Environmental Management Systems for Agriculture) program [link]. Based onthe ISO 14001 EMS (Environmental Management System) and NRCS's nine-step conservation planning process, CEMSA is an adaptive management tool that helps farmers establish a framework to profitably address environmental issues and concerns in their operations by integrating economic, agronomic and environmental performance. One component in completing a full CEMSA plan requires farmers to address the legal, regulatory and other issues that apply to their particular operation and document that they are staying abreast of environmental issues.

Whether farmers are involved in CEMSA or not, this website makes it easier for them to find answers to their questions about the environmental laws that apply to their farm, and points to additional resources for further reading.

Disclaimer: The information in this site is intended for use as educational material to assist landowners, farmers, and their advisors in understanding various laws, regulations, and lease provisions. These resources are not intended, and should not be used, as a substitute or replacement for individual legal advice. Landowners and farm operators should consult a lawyer and other relevant professionals prior to entering into any legally binding contract or agreement. Reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein; however, the content and interpretation of laws and regulations are subject to change. The effect of future legislative, administrative, and judicial developments cannot be predicted. For these reasons, the utilization of these materials by any person represents an agreement to hold harmless the author, the Agricultural Law Center, Drake University and the Law School, and the Iowa Soybean Association for any liability, claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this site.