There is still debate on both sides of the political spectrum as to the new farm bill’s overall effectiveness. Even with the removal of the controversial “direct payments,” which guaranteed farmers subsidies whether they farmed or not, Republicans believe the bill is still too costly, while Democrats feel the cuts made help large agribusinesses while hurting recipients of food stamps.
However, both political parties fail to recognize an equally important problem that the bill helps to perpetuate: the pollution of our waterways from agricultural runoff. This problem is particularly salient for us Minnesotans. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has studied our state’s waterways and found that about half of them are “impaired,” meaning they do not meet water-quality standards. In these polluted waterways it can be unsafe to fish, swim, or drink their water. Nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizers, manure, and pesticides are to blame for many of these impairments, as there are little to no regulations for the agricultural industry to reduce pollution.
This free-rein for agriculture is a huge problem and we need to do something about it. For one, legal loopholes exist in the Clean Water Act, since opponents to the law argued that it shouldn’t cover smaller streams and wetlands.
The Obama administration should follow through on its promise to close this loophole and make sure all waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act. As citizens of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we need to set an example for the rest of the country by showing President Obama that he has our support for ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy our waterways safely.
MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor.
The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.