Soil and Water Conservation Peanut District – Gordon Iiams

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

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The Suffolk News-Herald sent the same questions to Gordon Iiams and Charles Owens. Below is Iiams response, Click here to read Owens’s.

Name: Gordon Iiams

Age: 70

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Occupation: Retired Navy Captain, 23 and a half years; Farm owner in Southern Suffolk, 23 years of civilian service.

Prior elected office experience held: No prior elected office experience


Can you talk about why you decided to run for the Peanut District?

I decided to run for this office in late Spring 2023. As a land owner in rural, Southern Suffolk I have interacted with the SWCD (Soil & Water Conservation District) Peanut District Committee on several conservation projects.  The Committee and its administrative and technical teams have always been eager and friendly in their duties to assist with my requests and to provide advise and funding to implement my ideas.  I would like to pay back this service to the rest of Suffolk’s agricultural community by offering my time and participation as a member of the Peanut District SWCD. Having retired in 1998 from the US Navy with 24 years of service, and then retiring from 23 additional years of active practice in 2020 as a physician in Suffolk and Chesapeake, I now have time to devote to a life long passion for environmental and agricultural conservation.

What are your main goals if you were to be elected Soil & Water Conservation Director?

Assist area farmers and land owners who meet eligibility criteria for financial and technical assistance via the SWCD and DNR (Department of Natural Resources) in their pursuit of conservation projects on their properties.

Help Market/Advertise these various program opportunities to residents in Suffolk and the Peanut District through the SWCD outreach programs/efforts.

In what ways will you continue to protect water quality?

Water quality protections are critical to both agricultural success and to human health.  Grass and tree buffers at creek & river banks, ponds, lakes and other bodies of water contribute to filtering soil runoff and various pollutants. Planting and other farming techniques, fertilizer applications, and other chemical uses such as herbicides, pesticides and organic options can contribute to water quality as well. These are some of the issues addressed by SWCDs across the state, including the Peanut District.  Marshaling federal, state and local resources to identify potential water quality problems and addressing those problems expeditiously is a primary goal of SWCDs.

What solutions do you have for providing agriculture incentives?

Savings in both time and money for the landowner are important considerations. Cost Share reimbursements/subsidies are a major, short term contributing incentive.  Long term incentives can include advise/education opportunities in addition to financial assistance.  The satisfaction of contributing to restoration of natural habitats for wildlife and original forest environments can be a motivator for some landowners.

What are ways you will provide opportunities for farmers of color?

The Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) through its Division of Soil & Water Conservation has developed a community outreach plan for farmers of color in Virginia. I support these efforts and plan to continue them. Various organizations such as national societies, farmers’ markets, social clubs, houses of worship, etc are included in this outreach effort to establish networking relationships with their members. These efforts are administered/pursued through the local districts as well as through the state office. I believe it is important to continue Marketing the SWCD opportunities to all communities to make people aware of the various agricultural and conservation programs available to them. The Local SWCD is a key element in getting resources to the people who need them to best succeed. Continuing family and community participation in the agricultural industries combined with conservation minded practices will best serve America and all of its citizens.