Iowa to Address Farm Runoff

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad recently released the state’s mandated nitrate and phosphorus reduction plan in an effort to reduce runoff into the Gulf of Mexico by more than 11,000 tons.

In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency called on 12 states along the Mississippi River to develop anti-runoff strategies. The Gulf, according to EPA studies, has been the recipient of significant amounts of toxic runoff, making it difficult for marine life to thrive.

In particular, the Gulf and the Mississippi River have seen thousands of tons of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff, much of it from Iowa farms. These chemicals can encourage algae production, cutting off marine life from sunlight and oxygen and creating dead spots in bodies of water.

Branstad’s plan, the result of two years of study and debate, would require wastewater treatment plants and major industrial plants to implement costly upgrades to reduce nitrogen runoff. The total cost to businesses and taxpayers could total $1.5 billion over 20 years.

Iowa farms, on the other hand, would be asked to voluntarily limit farm runoff through best practice management and use of public conservation programs. “This strategy provides the most up-to-date scientific information available to farmers as they seek to use the best practices available to reduce nutrient delivery from their farm,” Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said in a statement.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer