Minnesota lawmakers seek study on farming, Mississippi River pollution

WASHINGTON — The head of the Minnesota Farmers Union is set to testify at a Senate hearing today on legislation that aims to reduce water pollution from agricultural practices.

Two bills would create a scientific monitoring system for the Mississippi River headwaters to collect data and take inventory of the sedimentary content. The study would cover the headwaters in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri.

The House bill (HR 3671) passed in March with a vote of 289-121 under the support of 10  co-sponsors, including Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz. Sen. Amy Klobuchar sponsored a companion measure, S 2779, in the Senate.

Sediment and nutrient runoff is most often linked to agricultural practices that lead to water pollution and damage to the surrounding environment. 

Doug Peterson, president of the farmers union, said the legislation brings participation of farmers to the forefront of conservation efforts. 

“This is a great opportunity to stress the need for farmer participation in this process to ensure that implementation plans contain pollution-reduction strategies that consider local needs,” Peterson said in a statement previewing his testimony.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Tim Gieseke on 06/16/2010 - 11:05 am.

    The study will provide assurance for what we already know; certain land management practices and management strategy have an influence on the quality of the water that leaves the land. And it may also enlighten us that it is impossible to correlate water quality in a river to a farm in the watershed. What farmers need is a method to communicate with agencies on how their farm is managed. My farm is a separate business from all other farms in my watershed, so a dirty river or a clean river does not speak of my management. A state-funded program that recently began generates a farm’s “water quality score”. This provides two major products not previously in existence. 1) Gives farmers a score to see if they meet “Water Quality Assurance” and 2) provides the state with the number of acres within the watershed that meet a “Water Quality Assurance”. With this program, farmers and agencies no longer have to work blind.

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