Adam Rissien, March 29, 2016
The Director of Clean Water at the Ohio Environmental Council, Adam Risen, released the following statement in response to the announcement today by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to invest $77 million dollars over the next three years to assist farmers in implementing practices that will reduce pollution risks and help to solve Lake Erie’s toxic algae problem.
“We commend the agency for its plan to reduce the pollution flowing into Lake Erie. Most noteworthy is the NRCS’s emphasis on creating pollution prevention plans and conservation systems that include smarter farm practices.”
This is a solid step in the right direction but to fully realize the potential of this major investment, local Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) who are essentially the “first responders” that help farmers sign up for federal programs and develop conservation plans will need more support and more staff. If Governor Kasich and state lawmakers fail to swiftly increase support for SWCD’s now, it will likely be a bottleneck that will prevent the NRCS investment from being fully successful.
The increased federal funding will help Ohio meet its commitment to reduce phosphorus entering western Lake Erie by 40 percent. Since the NRCS strategy will only reduce pollution on 18 percent of cropland in the basin’s watershed, Governor Kasich and state lawmakers will, simply put, need to go further with new policies that will ensure all farmers follow pollution prevention plans as well as increase funding to local SWCD offices.”