Drinking water, lakes and rivers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt are in serious trouble because of polluted farm runoff. To tackle the problem, for decades we’ve taken the approach favored by agricultural interests – making federal tax dollars available for conservation practices that curb runoff, encouraging farmers to adopt those practices, then hoping enough of them volunteer to do the right thing.
A new law requiring grass “buffers” to be planted between cropland and Minnesota’s rivers and streams is an innovative and important step toward cutting pollution from farm operations, EWG said today.Read More
The so-called “prevented planting” component of the federal crop insurance program is wasting billions of dollars while encouraging growers to plow up wildlife-sustaining wetlands in the iconic Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota.Read More
Requiring farmers to plant 50-foot wide grass strips, or buffers, between cropland and streams would jumpstart progress toward cleaning Iowa’s dirty water while affecting only a handful of growers and a minuscule number of acres, a new report from Environmental Working Group shows.Read More
In what has become an annual ritual, Congress unveiled this week a massive spending bill to keep the government going, which includes provisions that would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from vital programs that protect our land and water.Read More
Clean, cheap water from your tap might soon be a thing of the past.Read More
Corn-based ethanol is a major cause of the water pollution that is ravaging the Mississippi River basin and the Gulf of Mexico, a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inspector general concluded this week (Sept. 4).Read More
A new audit from Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds the agency’s strategy to reduce nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of Mexico is ineffective.Read More
In 2013, an Environmental Working Group report titled “WASHOUT” documented that soil erosion across Iowa farm land during that spring’s heavy rains had been far worse than previous estimates – in some cases carrying away a devastating 40 tons of soil in a single week from fragile and poorly protected fields. In many places, runoff carved “ephemeral gullies” as a result of growers’ inadequate conservation measures.Read More
A new survey of Iowa farmland finds that “ephemeral gullies” are still ravaging many crop fields despite a few welcome signs of improvement compared to a year ago. Unprotected fields were once again battered by spring storms this year, according to a report released today by the Environmental Working Group.Read More
Water pollution from farmland is a major problem in southern Minnesota and wherever row crops dominate the landscape across the United States. Much of this pollution can be prevented by the conscientious use of riparian buffers – strips of grass, trees or other permanent vegetation maintained along the banks of rivers, streams, lakes and other waterways.Read More
Seven U.S. senators last week called for re-linking the federal crop insurance program to conservation compliance during a House-Senate conference committee meeting on the 2013 farm bill. The ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee also endorsed the linkage.Read More
Last month, the National Wildlife Federation reported that more than 398,000 acres – 620 square miles – of grasslands, forests and other land were plowed, cleared or otherwise converted to grow crops over a 12-month period from 2011 to 2012.Read More
Across America’s heartland, in county after county and state after state, the landscape-devouring machinery of modern agriculture has been churning through millions of acres of irreplaceable wetlands and fragile, highly erodible grassland and prairie.Read More
Media attention has understandably focused on flooding, especially given the devastating floods that have repeatedly struck the region in recent years.This year, it looks as if the Midwest will dodge the bullet – flooding has been damaging and heart-breaking for those affected, but nothing yet has resembled the scope and devastation of the 1993 and 2008 floods.
But the Corn Belt’s rich soil and streams, especially in Iowa, haven’t been as lucky. The storms that pushed streams and rivers out of their banks have battered largely unprotected cropland soils throughout the region, sending tons of mud and farm chemicals into road ditches and streams across the heartland.Read More