Keep an eye on EPA’s Chesapeake Bay model

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Farmers and others in agriculture are watching Environmental Protection Agency's actions associated with the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Specifically the attention is focused on regulations pertaining to Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the East Coast watershed.

The reason it’s garnering attention in the Midwest and elsewhere is that EPA’s actions toward the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, could be a warm up for a future focus on the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. Among the concerns is that EPA’s TMDL model is flawed and will create another regulatory burden on states, rural communities and agriculture/food production.

"The TMDL is what EPA calls a 'pollution diet.' It’s a firm limit on the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment that can be discharged into the bay,” says Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.) and member of the House Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry.

Six states are in the Bay’s watershed, and officials in several are concerned about the EPA’s process of developing the estimates for required reductions. In fact, there are additional concerns that EPA may disregard the states’ plans and impose costly additional limits.

"Agriculture is one of the top industries in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and has been disproportionately affected during the cleanup process so far,” Thompson notes. “Restoring and maintaining the health of the Bay is a worthwhile pursuit, but EPA must be fair and realistic with this process."

To hear more from Thompson’s discussion on the U.S. House broadcast of The Ag Minute, click here.



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Calvin    
Wyoming  |  November, 03, 2011 at 02:52 PM

Limiting nutrients should is not an economic burden to agriculture. Most farmers are using fertilizer amounts recommended by people who sell fertilizer. Many instances their recommendations are higher than crop requirements. So where is the economic burden to the farmer? It pays to think long term, think about the productivity of Chesapeake Bay. Delaying the remediation of this body of water is very shortsighted and based strictly on dollars and cents.

Jerry    
West Virginia  |  November, 11, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Calvin is sadly mistaken. Using fertilizer, at today's record cost is the true economic burden for farmers. Fertilizer rates are quoted for crop yield goals and often farmers cannot afford to put on even the amount needed for the targeted yield (this is especially true for pasture fertility programs). He is correct in stating it pays to think long term. Investing in new technology and infrastructure to help reduce municipal waste and pollutants from the bay is the right idea, yet US EPA has withdrawn funding for just such a state of the art plant here in West Virginia that WILL decrease our total state nutrient loading of the bay by 100%! True remediation of the bay will only begin when comprehensive action is taken to limit growth and development within the entire watershed. Yes, that means no more growth around the bay. We could eliminate ALL agricultural enterprises in the ENTIRE WATERSHED and not meet the US EPA goal for the finalization of the TMDL. That leaves one final question: After the farmers, who is next???????????????????????????????????????

MAKeller    
N  |  November, 03, 2011 at 09:51 PM

If like other TMDLs, there are most likely required " setbacks" from the edge of streams and DRY stream beds. Farmer are unable to use these "setback" areas which are sometimes stated as 30 to 50 feet away from the stream-- on both sides of the stream or dry stream bed. This amounts to lost opportunity to farm all of the farmer's own farm ground. It is "government taking" without compensation and the farmer will still have to maintain said "setback" area as well as have to continue to pay taxes on this unfarmable land. This loss of property with added expense is an an economic burden. These TDML cleanups are expensive and it does seem that agriculture bears a huge portion of the burden. Cites and villages are for some reason given excuses to continue their polluting ways or if EPA sees a major problem the urban areas are given opportunities for grants to assist with their costs. One area's TDML often serves as a model for setting up another watershed's TDML model, so what is set up for the Bay area will most probably be repeated for other areas. It does bear watching.

Mike    
maryland  |  November, 04, 2011 at 01:03 PM

Unfortunately, us farmers are the "scape-goats" in the Chesapeake Bay area. It's ok for Harry home owner to put any amount of nitrogen on his lawn he wants. Or the sewage treatment plants to have accidental spills, or even dump raw sewage when they are at capacity. Not to mention the extreme amount of fertilizer put on our local golf courses. No, let's regulate the animal and crop farms in the region, because they are the easiest to blame. A major pollutant to our water supply in other parts of the country is the production of natural gas. Investigate how it is processed and retrieved, and you will realize the magnitude of this huge pollutant.

Maxine Jones    
Midland, SD  |  November, 09, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Good article on yet another subject we ag producers need to inform ourselves about. And great comments, too. In fact, agriculture does NOT use the majority of the ag chemicals in the USA. According to recent information, about 15% of the fertilizers, pesticides, and other ag type chemicals are used on farms, with 85% used on things like yards, golf courses, parks, and by government agencies! Just think about that, too much like the USDA budget which is mostly to consumers' food assitance, yet farmers are blamed with claims it all goes to subsidized crops. Why do we allow this abuse of farmers???


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