Policy Plate: Gulf Dead Zone Update
A coalition of environmental groups including the Gulf Restoration Network, Prairie Rivers Network and the Iowa Environmental Council are suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force it to set state water quality standards and tighten pollution limits on wastewater treatment plants. In an interview with the Public News Service, Lorin Crandall, clean water program director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, emphasized that pollution from Midwest farms is largely responsible for the notorious “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico:
Absolutely. We have close to sole responsibility for it. I mean, it's the pollution from the Midwest that is primarily causing the dead zone.
The Progress Illinois blog also weighed in on the agricultural pollution issue:
Of particular concern is the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous running into the Mississippi River from large-scale agricultural production, such as seen in Illinois, as well as the amount of pollution that comes from big urban wastewater treatment programs such as Chicago’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, which is the largest in the region.
Just about a year ago, EWG took a look at Illinois’ pollution problem, and toxic runoff from farm chemicals is now a frontline topic in the current farm bill debate. The Gulf Restoration Network has also posted this video primer on the dead zone.
And just this week, Drover’s Cattle Network examined what might happen to the conservation compact between farmers and taxpayers if farm subsidies are shifted from the widely discredited direct payments to crop insurance premiums.
- Brian DeVore, editor of the Land Stewardship Project Letter, writes about the dangers that subsidized crop insurance poses to the environment: “Today's crop insurance rewards farming of environmentally sensitive land and is a key mechanism for consolidating an increasing number of acres in the hands of a few mega-producers.”
- In a new report called “Who pollutes? Who Pays?” the Everglades Foundation asserts that the “agricultural industry is responsible for 76 percent of the phosphorus pollution entering the Everglades. In addition, researchers determined that the agricultural industry pays ONLY 24 percent of the cost of phosphorus removal, leaving the balance of the burden on the shoulders of taxpayers.”
- Alli Condra also has a piece about crop insurance in Food Safety News from the perspective of protecting wildlife and food safety.
- Reporter Tom Lutely writes in the Billings Gazette about Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposed budget cuts to farm programs. Lutley has this to say: “By forcing the House and Senate Agriculture committees to re-examine crop insurance, the House Budget Committee is forcing a choice to be made between cutting support to farmers or cutting smaller paychecks to insurance companies.”
- And small farmer advocate Willie Nelson rescued an abused horse.
Tweet of the day:
@Appetite4Profit saying free speech protects marketing to children is just a smoke screen for corporate exploitation.
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