Stabenow Testifies on Water Quality through Voluntary Conservation ProgramsWed, 03 Dec 2014 14:47:09 CST
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Wednesday said that farmers and ranchers need to take advantage of public-private partnerships and programs meant to improve water quality in our lakes, rivers, and streams. Stabenow said the agriculture industry has already become a part of the solution when it comes to solving the crisis surrounding water quality. Farmers and ranchers have the ability to take steps to improve their management practices through voluntary conservation programs that were significantly bolstered in the 2014 Farm Bill.
Water quality, or the pollution of water by nutrients, animal waste and soil erosion, is a national issue and agriculture has an important role to play in maintaining and improving water quality in watersheds affected by farming operations. USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service has a number of programs that can help farmers address water quality and give farmers the correct tools to implement conservation activities that reduce their footprint on the environment.
"No group understands the importance of water and soil quality more than our nation's farmers and ranchers," said Chairwoman Stabenow. "Agriculture has played a critical role since the 1985 Farm Bill, when Congress first created the conservation title. Our farmers want to be part of the solution, and they are, which is why we made conservation such a focus in the 2014 Farm Bill."
Stabenow's comments came during a hearing that's part of a larger effortto find collaborative solutions to address water quality issues across the country. Sen. Stabenow pointed to the Great Lakes, where a toxic algae bloom was discovered earlier this year that prevented communities in Southeast Michigan and Northern Ohio from drinking or using their tap water.
"This has long been an issue for those of us who live near the Great Lakes," added Chairwoman Stabenow. "We got a stark wake-up call this summer when the Greater Toledo area couldn't drink their water, couldn't use water to cook, couldn't wash their hands, or brush their teeth, or take a shower because the water was contaminated with toxins from a serious algae bloom in Lake Erie."
Witnesses who testified at today's hearing include Hon. D. Michael Collins, Mayor, City of Toledo, Toledo, OH; Dr.Marty D. Matlock, Executive Director, Office for Sustainability, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR; Mr. Sean McMahon Executive Director, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, Ankeny, IA; Ms. Kristin Weeks Duncanson Owner/Partner, Duncanson Growers, Mapleton, MN; Ms. Trudy D. Fisher Former Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Ridgeland, MS and Mr. Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC.
An archived webcast of Wednesday's hearing can be viewed on the Committee's website by clicking here.
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