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Groups seek change in water quality program bill

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Environmental groups are sounding alarms that a Republican-led House subcommittee has inserted language into the budget bill for the Department of Agriculture that critics say would prevent the public from accessing information about water quality improvement practices funded partially with taxpayer dollars.

The budget bill deals in part with farm practices the state will help pay for as part of the state’s strategy to reduce manure and fertilizer that runs into rivers and streams.

Department of Agriculture officials say they must ensure details of land practices aren’t made public for farmers participating in the program.

Environmental groups say the data is critical to understanding pollution risks.

Democrats vow to amend the bill if the language isn’t changed when it’s debated in the House next week.

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