CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Most people, including those in agriculture, may be unfamiliar with the Agriculture Nutrient Policy Council.
But its importance is wide-ranging.
Lauren Lurkins, Director of Environmental Policy for the Illinois Farm Bureau, lead a Cornbelt-wide effort on Tuesday to show the US-EPA that farmers are making an effort to keep nutrients from fertilizer out of waterways.
“We’ve been working on nutrients and water quality in the state of Illinois, but this is an issue that folks in agriculture have been working on across the country,” Lurkins said. “So there is an entity called the Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council. It was formed back in 2010 to help national and state-level organizations like the Farm Bureau work on water quality issues.”
“What we did today was, we had an opportunity to present in a virtual meeting for the Hypoxia Task Force, which is a task force of the EPA and the state of Iowa, but almost 200 individuals on this virtual meeting trying to figure out what everybody is doing regarding Gulf Hypoxia and reducing the size of that zone,” Lurkins continued. “So this report is very exciting out of the ANPC because it is a high-level overview of the work being done within ag associations, farmer-led efforts to improve water quality across 16 states in the Mississippi River Basin. It feels really good to get published on a document like that, let alone have an opportunity to tell our federal partners what we’ve been working on.”
And because of that work, levels of nutrients, nitrogen, phosphates are declining.
“That is part of what we are talking about today. All of the scientists working on this have varying opinions of what they are seeing, so that is actually the number one thing: to make sure everyone is on the same page with regard to data,” Lurkins said. “In 16 states, there is a lot of stuff that’s been going on and our main point was to say that we are working under this framework back in 2011 when EPA said ‘Hey states, put these strategies together.’ Farmers embraced those strategies and we got to work, and we’re going to continue to work on it, but we are optimistic we are seeing improvements in water quality.”
Lauren Lurkins joins us on Midwest Ag this week Saturday and Sunday to talk about EPA’s latest effort to manage water quality.