A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Hypoxia Task Force has good news for America’s farmers and ranchers.
The EPA indicates that hard work by farmers and ranchers to reduce nutrient losses in the Mississippi River watershed is paying off. The report reveals that the 12 participating states have met interim nitrogen reduction goals two years ahead of schedule and are also making considerable progress in bringing down phosphorus losses.
The goals, which are part of a comprehensive strategy established by state and federal agencies across the Mississippi River watershed region, tasked farmers, ranchers and trusted advisors with helping to reduce nutrient losses by 20 percent by 2025. Through dedication to the implementation of conservation and best management practices, nitrogen loss has already been reduced by 23 percent, which exceeds the goals established in the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan 2008.
“Farmers are problem-solvers by nature, and the work being done in Mississippi River Basin to reduce nitrogen loads in the Gulf region is proof of what can happen when we come together to find solutions,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “I commend the farmers in each of the HTF states for their instrumental role in making these strides and encourage all stakeholders to continue working together to meet the 2035 goals.”
“There’s still work to be done in the Gulf region, and we stand ready to work with our partners at EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and within the task force states to continue the progress we’re making,” Duvall said.
While the interim goal of nitrogen loss has been met, the report also outlines the need for more progress in the reduction of phosphorous loss despite the contribution of farmers to a positive phosphorous trend. AFBF also acknowledges that economic factors, including planted acreage and associated fertilizer demand, can influence average nutrient load values within selected periods.
“AFBF encourages continued discussion on preventing natural sources of phosphorous losses, such as streambank erosion,” says an AFBF press release. “The long-term goal of the Action Plan calls for a 48 percent reduction in phosphorous loads by 2035.”
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