On paper, I appear to be the picture perfect stereotype of an east coast liberal: I’ve been working at environmental nonprofits for over 20 years, I’m an Ivy League grad, and I live in the “bluest” county in Virginia. When it comes to first impressions in the world of agriculture, I’ve been met countless times with skepticism and even contempt.
The reality is that I spend nearly every waking hour of my career collaborating with farmers – exploring ways to implement on-the-ground practices that help producers save money and protect yields while also reducing impacts to water and air. After years of building relationships, I’m proud of the diverse and unlikely partnerships I’ve formed. Many of my closest friends and allies would be labeled as “big ag.”
But I’m worried that today’s political divisions will roll back the decades of progress reducing nutrient runoff across the Corn Belt and beyond. I don’t want to see doors closed because of assumptions on either side of the political divide that now dominate the country. Read More
Posted in Partnerships, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged bipartisan, collaboration, common ground, conservation, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Protection Agency, ESA, farm income, rural America, Waters of the U.S., WOTUS
© Dwight Nadig
Taking aim at government regulation is a favorite pastime in Washington, but the Trump Administration and the 115th Congress have upped the ante.
In the course of a few weeks, the House of Representatives voted down a measure to curb methane leaks from oil and gas rigs on public and tribal lands. It also voted to overturn a common-sense rule to prevent coal companies from polluting local streams. Meanwhile, the president signed an executive order requiring the arbitrary removal of two existing regulations for every new one created.
Next in their sights: gutting Environmental Protection Agency programs and possibly repealing the Endangered Species Act.
There’s no question we can improve how we go about implementing environmental laws to ensure they deliver the biggest bang for the buck for people and nature. But as an advocate for the environment and a former policy director at the U.S. Department of Commerce, I find the rhetoric-driven rush to rescind these protections short-sighted – even dangerous. Read More
Posted in Ecosystems, Habitat, Sustainable Agriculture, Water Also tagged bipartisan, clean air, clean water, Congress, economy, Endangered Species Act, Environmental Protection Agency, environmental protections, ESA, Interior department, regulation, Trump Administration, wildlife
There is no shortage of news about the contamination of drinking water sources caused by fertilizer run-off from agriculture. And there is no shortage of regulatory responses to these events: Ohio and Michigan’s commitment to reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Erie by 40 percent; the nitrate lawsuit in Des Moines, Iowa, and Monday’s ruling on the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enforce total maximum daily load specifications for the Chesapeake Bay.
In addition, food companies wanting to source sustainably grown grains to meet that consumer demand and reduce their own supply chain risks are sending the same signal, further shining the spotlight on the growing demand for improved environmental outcomes from how we produce food.
If farmers can help meet these demands by being increasingly efficient with nutrients and protecting their soils, they will see nearer term benefits and possibly stem future regulations. Here’s why:
Posted in Fertilizer, Supply Chain, Sustainable Agriculture Also tagged agriculture, Des Moines, farmers, farms, fertilizer, food production, Lake Erie, nutrient efficiency, regulation, soil health, SUSTAIN, sustainability, United Suppliers
Federal and state governments aren’t doing enough to keep polluted runoff from reaching America’s waterways. That’s the conclusion the Environmental Protection Agency – aka the federal government – has reached in a new report from the office of its inspector general.
Government has tried to reign in nutrient pollution for decades, only to watch dead zones persist in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie. Just last month, a toxic brew of urban and agricultural runoff shut down Toledo’s water for two days. Seven weeks later, many of the city’s half million residents are still afraid to drink what’s coming out of the tap.
Posted in Ecosystems, Fertilizer, Sustainable Agriculture, Water Also tagged agriculture, Chesapeake Bay, cover crops, dead zones, fertilizer, grain production, Gulf of Mexico, hypoxia, Lake Erie, nutrient efficiency, polluted runoff, Toledo, toxic algae, water quality