The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering farmers in Indiana and Ohio $2 million in grants to reduce phosphorus runoff into Lake Erie, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced on Friday.
The grants are part of a larger effort by the USDA to address pollution and environmental degradation. Earlier in the year, the United Nations released a scientific study classifying significant portions of the planet’s surface as degraded environmentally. This is particularly problematic in light of a growing global population and UN estimates that current agricultural production will not be enough to feed the estimated 9 billion people.
In response to these reports, the USDA and environmental groups have stepped up efforts to reform agricultural practices and create a more sustainable ag sector.
In addition to agricultural reform, the USDA and many politicians from the Great Lakes area are concerned about the local economy. Lake Erie tourism is an $11 billion industry that employs nearly 120,000 people.
The problem in Lake Erie is that excessive use of fertilizers has led to phosphorus runoff into the lake. Excess phosphorus can lead to algae blooms, which can kill marine wildlife and aquatic plants. In addition, the algae blooms, once they’ve run their course, often end up washing to shore in rotting, foul smelling green mats. The blooms have gotten so bad, locals say, that the water in Lake Erie resembles pea soup.
Methods of reducing phosphorus runoff include increasing cover crops, planting buffer and filter strips along drainage ditches, and reducing the amount of phosphorus and fertilizers used on crops.
To learn more about agricultural financing opportunities contact a Farm Plus Financial representative by calling 866-929-5585 or by visiting www.farmloans.com.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer