Farmers Receive Water Pollution Grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make grants available to farmers near major U.S. watersheds, officials recently announced, in order to combat pollution and offset costs to recent Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

In announcing the Water Quality Initiative, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a goal to improve “impaired watersheds in every U.S. state and territory,” and praised the initiative as a bold step to improve water quality in some very challenging watersheds.” In order to qualify for access to the $33 million in available grant money, farmers from watersheds listed as impaired by the National Resources Conservation Service need to schedule an appointment and inspection by local USDA officials and apply by June 15.

In order to be listed as impaired, a watershed needs to contain significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment, and algae blooms, all in large enough quantities to threaten local aquatic wildlife and the larger ecosystem. High enough levels of pollution can reduce the amount of oxygen in bodies of water and can threaten local drinking water.

The NRSC’s efforts are designed to supplement larger cleanup efforts in major U.S. bodies of water including the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi River Basin. “American farmers are good stewards of the environment, and this initiative provides them with additional tools to protect and improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality,” Vilsack said in a statement.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer