Minnesotans Fight Back Against Agriculture Pollution
A diverse coalition that included farmers, urban residents and conservation and business groups called on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency yesterday to hold farm operations accountable for their share of run-off pollution flowing into Minnesota waterways and the Mississippi River. Major Minnesota media covered the event, with the Star Tribune reporting:
Environmentalists at the Tuesday news conference -- held in parking lot at the MPCA's St. Paul headquarters -- dumped out buckets of dirt to illustrate that farmers contribute 13 times as much sediment as cities.
"It is harder to pinpoint how much pollution is coming from a specific farmer's fields" than from a city or business, acknowledged Whitney Clark, executive director of Friends of the Mississippi River. "But we can't rely on voluntary efforts by farmers. We need incentives to help them do the right thing, but we also need to require them to do the right thing."
Minnesota farms send far more sediment into the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers than do the state's cities.
But what to do about it?
That question resurfaced Tuesday, May 29, when environmental, city, business and farm interests called on state regulators to make farmers do a better job of reducing that runoff.
Otherwise, they said, communities across much of Minnesota, and the taxpayers who live there, could be hit with more than $1 billion in added infrastructure-related expenses to cut their own levels further.
"The Minnesota cities are prepared to do their share in addressing clean water and cleaning up the water to the lake and the river,'' said Randy Neprash of the Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition. "What we want to see is that this burden is shared equitably and that we know that agriculture is going to do what needs to be done to provide clean water throughout the state of Minnesota.''
EWG’s April report, Troubled Waters, shows how water pollution caused by farm runoff in the upper Midwest is increasingly expensive and difficult to treat and, if current trends continue, ultimately unsustainable.
- The Aberdeen American News reports on a farm bill listening session held by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-Sodak.) It quotes farmer Kirk Schaunaman asking the Congresswoman: "We all appreciate and support crop insurance. But at what point is the average taxpayer going to wake up and see how much the subsidized crop insurance program is, and when is that backlash going to start?"
- Over the weekend the Hill newspaper quoted an unnamed lobbyist on the contentious issue of setting crop target prices in the new farm bill: “A target price supporter discounted the idea that Tea Party House members would rebel against the notion of government set prices. “It never comes up with them,” one said.” Then last night the Hill reported “Conservative groups have made it official — they hate the Senate farm bill and will push Tea Party fiscal hawks in Congress to defeat it.”
- A GOP backed Minnesota candidate for the U.S Senate wants to means test farm subsidies.
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