Farm Bureau Disputes EPA Findings

Earlier this week, the American Farm Bureau Federation released a report questioning the Environmental Protection Agency’s data regarding pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Pollution in the Bay and federal cleanup efforts have been hotly debated subjects for the better part of a year. In 2010, the EPA released a broad vision for reducing pollution in the Bay.

In December, the EPA released a “pollution diet,” backed by a series of computer models tracking pollution into the Bay, much of it from farms along the Chesapeake tributaries, and established a Total Maximum Daily Load of pollutants allowed into rivers and water sources that flow into the Chesapeake.

The ultimate goal of this pollution diet was to lower the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus (both major leavings of commercial farm fertilizer), and sediment into the Bay. These pollutants, EPA officials say, have chocked parts of the Bay of oxygen, creating dead spots and killing off the natural wildlife in the region.

The Farm Bureau, however, has objected to EPA computer models. The models, they say, differ significantly from U.S. Department of Agriculture models, particularly in land use, total acreage of Chesapeake Bay farms, and farm practices. These differences, Farm Bureau officials say, unfairly blame farmers for pollution in the Chesapeake. The EPA has criticized these claims, stating that their models are some of the most sophisticated in the world.

The data debate will almost certainly play a major role in the federal lawsuit regarding the EPA’s Chesapeake cleanup efforts. The Farm Bureau, in an effort to halt what they claim is excess EPA regulation, has sued the agency.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer