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Principal author: Michelle Perez, Senior Analyst, Environmental Working Group

Contributing advisors: Craig Cox, Executive Director, Soil Water Conservation Society and Ken Cook, President, Environmental Working Group

Report design: Mi-Young Kim, Web Designer, Environmental Working Group

The Environmental Working Group prepared this report for the Mississippi River Water Quality Collaborative, with support from the McKnight Foundation. EWG would like to thank the members of the Collaborative, and especially Susan Heathcoate with the Iowa Environmental Council who served as Chair of the Collaborative’s Farm Workgroup, for their assistance during the writing of this report. Special thanks go to Craig Cox who provided guidance and feedback throughout the process. EWG would also like to thank the conservation compliance staff at the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and staff at the Farm Service Agency (FSA) for providing additional data and invaluable insight. Finally, EWG would like to thank the Senate Agriculture Committee staff for giving us access to additional NRCS and Government Accountability Office (GAO) data. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the Environmental Working Group and do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporters listed above. EWG is responsible for any errors of fact or interpretation contained in this report.

Cover photo: Soil erosion and water run-off on a cornfield. Source: USDA NRCS. Photo credit: Lynn Betts.


The Collaborative is comprised of environmental organizations from states bordering the Mississippi River as well as regional and national groups that work on Mississippi River issues. The purpose of the Collaborative is to harness the resources and expertise of diverse organizations to reduce all types of pollution entering the river. Mississippi River Water Quality Collaborative members who are jointly releasing this report include:

Environmental Law & Policy Center Chicago, Illinois

Environmental Working Group Washington, D.C.

Gulf Restoration Network Louisiana and Mississippi

Iowa Environmental Council Des Moines, Iowa

Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Inc. Greensburg, Kentucky

Louisiana Environmental Action Network Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Midwest Environmental Advocates, Inc. Madison, Wisconsin

Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy St. Paul, Minnesota

Missouri Coalition for the Environment St. Louis, Missouri

Prairie Rivers Network Champaign, Illinois

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee Clean Water Network Knoxville, Tennessee

The Minnesota Project Canton, Minnesota


EWG is a nonprofit research organization with offices in Washington, DC and Oakland, CA. EWG uses the power of information to educate the public and decision-makers about a wide range of environmental issues, especially those affecting public health.

Kenneth A. Cook, President

Richard Wiles, Executive Director

Jane Houlihan, Vice President for Research

Chris Campbell, Vice President for Information Technology

Bill Walker, Vice President/West Coast